Every time I attend a large conference, I am struck once again by how immense this country is, the regional differences, and the incredible similarities of the people. Last night, I sat at a table with people from California, Nebraska, Illinois, Delaware, and New York. While there were slight differences in our accents, there was no communication barrier even as thousands of miles separate our homes. Basically, our cultures are the same. We all do similar work, and our daily issues are quite similar. There is a huge comfort in the neighborliness of conferences and the willingness to meet new people to discuss new ideas.
My trip did not get off to a great start. The woman next to me on the plane kept falling asleep, and her head was resting uncomfortably (for me!) on my shoulder. I endured her bizarre familiarity knowing that the flight would not be long. I couldn’t wait to land.
Once on the ground, I was in a hurry to get to the hotel. An old friend from Geogia was driving in the meet me for the weekend. We had already made plans for dinner. I waited impatiently for my luggage…which didn’t arrive. What a disheartening feeling to see ALL the luggage spinning around on the carousel, but not see my bag. Eventually, I headed over to file a claim, and then I caught a cab to my hotel minus my luggage. I suddenly felt really dirty and wanted nothing more than to change my clothes, which I did not have. I saw my friend at the hotel, and I told her that I had to go shopping. I didn’t even have a change of under garments, and that thought grossed me out.
I shopped Atlanta alone with only the advice of my cab driver. I’ll have to admit that I enjoyed the unexpected shopping spree and the kindness of the cabbie. While I hoped that my bag would eventually show up, I felt the need to have at least of change of clothing for the next day.
By 2:00 a.m., my bag had arrived. I was less excited to see my clothes than I was to see the little drawing Lola made for me when she was four years old that I have kept in my suitcase for years. The thought of losing that drawing had bothered me much more than the thought of losing any material items.
So after a rough start, I have been enjoying the opportunity to learn new things, meet old friends, and network with professionals from across the country. I will return home inspired, and hopefully, refreshed and full of new ideas.