In case you haven’t been able to tell, I’m all about meeting people from the internet. Naturally, I would be the one to organize an event based off of the very idea. I am just glad that Jen agreed to be the backbone of my crazy idea. Even through all of the planning, it never really hit me that it was actually going to happen until I filled up my tank, stocked up on smokes, and hopped on I-10 heading West. A direction I have never driven before. I even made a Vine on the road.
I arrived in Austin, TX alone after a long, but enjoyable 6 hour drive. I love to drive. It’s relaxing to me as long as I don’t get lost. I take one wrong exit and you would swear I just launched myself into outer space without an oxygen tank. I don’t think the La Quinta Inn was ready for me. As I stepped out of my SUV and started to unload my stuff onto a luggage cart, shoes, lanyards, and toiletries were falling everywhere. It was like my luggage sprung a leak.
“Well, I’m here.” I thought.
I didn’t waste much time doodling in the hotel room, as I was ready to meet up with Jen so we could slap each other in the face as a reality check ritual. Little did I know, she had already explored Austin, met up with one of our speakers, Julian Gallo, and played with some bats. Cool. I’m late!
This would be a recurring theme. For some reason I felt totally under prepared the entire weekend.
Walking down Congress, I was looking around waiting for Jen to pop out of the woodwork, or one of the many hipster shops rather. Soon, I came to the restaurant we were to meet. I was right across the street from it. And there they were. Jen and Julian, and in deep conversation too by the looks of it. I thought about jay running directly to them, but I figured it might be best for me to refrain from breaking laws before meeting the rest of the attendees. A few times I actually waved thinking I had made eye contact, only to embarrass myself when I realized I hadn’t.
Too be honest, I was a little more nervous about walking down the wrong street and getting lost, than meeting everyone in person. I’m awkward as fuck on the phone, sure. I don’t enjoy giving speeches, no. But I don’t get nervous to meet people one on one. I’m totally cool and put together. Unless they are nervous. Then it’s like catching poison ivy when you haven’t been outside yet. Confusing.
Regardless of nerves, when I saw the set up that 508 Tequila Bar created for us, I got a huge surge of proud feelings. I knew we had done it right. It only got better after that first night. I don’t think we could have planned this thing better, and I think everyone there meshed in an amazing way. Friendships blasted into hyper mode. It went a step beyond networking. I think they call it bonding.
Jen’s composure and eyebrows wowed me. It was mesmerizing to listen to Jullian talk about pretty much anything. I enjoyed giggling in the bathroom with Michelle as she nonchalantly wiped the counters after washing her hands. Chiara and I snuggled in our La Quinta bed after the speaker session, entertaining ourselves with nothing but some 711 candy and lottery scratchers. I fell in love with John and his wife Lisa who have to be the cutest couple in the history of the internet. So many moments go through my head when I think of the weekend.
Unfortunately, I did have one hang up about the event… me.
I recognized the fact that I had lost touch with much of the blogging community well before BI but way too late for my liking. When I was buzzing around during BI, I felt a bit intimidated. I hadn’t read anyone in so long. Since the beginning of the year when we started planning BI13, I have been so caught up in… well… planning. Blogger Interactive, Kickstarter projects, moving and moving some more, Bachelorette parties, Bloggers for Movember, and a million other things seemed to keep me from participating in the one thing that started it all. Blogging.
When I asked Lauren and Michael of Key + Arrow who they were, I felt like an idiot. Their blog was right there on our Facebook page. Dur. Yet, my mind felt blank. I didn’t get to have the depth of conversations I wanted to, because I wasn’t leading conversation like my normal self. I felt scattered. I felt intimidated. What?!
Luckily for me Vyvy of Vyvacious reminded me of something. Vyvy expressed the same concern to me over Brussels sprouts and calamari before the event even began, yet there at the Hangar Lounge on the second night she was sitting on Red’s wife’s lap, taking pictures, dancing, and chatting up a storm. She reminded me that having everyone memorized wasn’t what mattered. What mattered is that we were all there. We were there for each other. We were there to continue to get to know each other and learn from each other. And most of all, I think we all gained a new excitement and buzz for blogging, writing, and our virtual community while we were there. And I am more than okay with that.
Thank you Jen for ALL of your amazing hard work on this with me. Thank you Julian and Chiara for sharing your sexy brains with us. And finally, thank all of you who came out despite the distance, schedules and nerves. I love you all.
Look out for the official post event write-up on the BI page along with a slideshow of photos that have yet to be shared!