There is so much to say. And yet where to begin?
Let's begin with the trip that almost didn't happen.
After getting a very sad email from my real-life friend, Annie, that she would not be able to make it (see why here), I arrived at the airport on Thursday afternoon. I was excited, nervous, and ready to go. I stepped up to the counter, and was greeted by a guy who looks disturbingly similar to this one:
Only a little less cute.
He checked my ID, and commented that we share the same birthday (except he was classy and smooth, and pointed out that my birthday is ten years sooner than his, thus making me essentially an old hag). He was flirty and eager, yet annoying, and I made nice long enough to get myself checked in, and on my merry way.
About ten minutes before I was scheduled to board the plane, the Seymour-Hoffman Ugly Twin comes to the terminal and announces that our flight has not even left Denver yet, and that we'd be delayed for an undetermined amount of time. He told everyone to sit tight, and that they'd work on connections and call us up when they were done.
Immediately 40 people got in line at the counter. I was wise enough to be one of them.
I watched five or six people in front of me be turned away without success. When it came to be my turn, I tilted my head, pathetically batted my eyelashes, and said in a sultry whisper, "Hello, birthday friend." He blushed, and apologized for the delay. Sensing my chance, I told him that I just HAD to get to Salt Lake tonight. He shrugged his shoulders and said they'd do their best, and for me to have a seat.
That's when the lie suddenly, and without warning, came out.
I might have accidentally told him that I was supposed to be the keynote speaker at a very important conference Thursday night (unlike the real keynote speaker), and that I just HAD to be there. This lie might have been told with very doe-like eyes, and my bosoms may or may not have been squeezed together - accidentally. He glanced behind me at the ever-growing line of angry customers, and then slowly picked up the phone.
Turns out, his mother works for another airlines as a gate agent, and between the two of them, they were able to get me switched to another flight.
Yes, ON ANOTHER AIRLINE.
I have no doubt that others waiting behind me did not get the same lucky break (too bad they weren't born on the same day as the Seymour-Hoffman Ugly Twin. Yay me).
My lucky break, it turned out, was not as lucky as I needed it to be. I did get into Salt Lake and to my Blogapalooza party (after getting lost and requiring cell phone directions from my private navigation system, the Husband), but not until it was almost over.
I peeked my head nervously into the room full of women I have been dying to meet. Celia Fae looked up, recognizing me immediately. She screamed and rushed over, throwing her arms tight around me.
And I promise you, internets, I have never felt like more of a rock star than at that moment.
Right then, all the stress and drama was forgotten. It was such a treat to look around the room, and meet you all in real life, to recognize you from your blogs. People who I have been reading about for a very long time. People who actually read me, and then leave nice words for me when they come. It was a very good feeling, and I wished I had not missed so much of it.
I did not get to talk to all of you like I wanted, but those that I got to chat with were as generous, kind, and beautiful as they are on their blogs. I felt as though I knew you already. Conversation was easy. There was not the awkwardness that you would expect in a room full of people you didn't know. I felt as though I were in a room full of old friends.
And in a way, I was.
What say you to making this an annual tradition, new friends? Shall we meet every year? Say yes, and I will be there.
But I can't promise I won't lie my way into getting there again, and I definitely will work what I've got to get myself on that plane.
This is one party I wouldn't have missed for the world. Thanks for everything!