When I started this blog, in the Before Times, I wanted to write about my adventures and experiences while deployed to Kosovo. That was my intent, to keep everyone back home informed and to record an experience I knew would be life changing. But then, I found 20sb and Rachel and Nicole and this amazing world of young, smart and beautiful women opened up in front of me and I found myself not feeling quite so alone. I fell in love with the stories of other women finding love, finishing school and searching for themselves. All those stories made me anxious to get back to life, to get back home and start adventuring through my 20s.
I never expected blogging to give me so much. In the past few years since I came back home and resettled myself in Richmond, Virginia, I’ve met a few bloggers and twitter peeps. I’ve attended a lovely ladies lunch and have marveled at the way several of the relationships I’ve made online have transformed into real, powerful friendships.
I’ve wanted to go to Bloggers in Sin City since the first year. It seemed like this great beacon of insanity and adventure and after Stacey came back from last year’s event raving, I knew this year was the year. No excuses, I was going to Vegas for the third annual event come hell or high water and even then, I’d grab a fire extinguisher and fight my way through or learn to fucking swim.
So I went. I’ve tried and failed repeatedly to recap, opting first to attempt a sort of play-by-play of the weekend, but it didn’t capture how it all felt. It fell far short of explaining what it feels like to arrive, knowing only one person, to an event with nearly 60 bloggers who I know only through their words, tweets and the occasional email.
In short, it was epic. It was life-changing, eye-opening and as I boarded a plane early Monday morning, fresh from the jolt of meeting so many new people on Thursday, from actually getting to know people on Friday and Saturday and from the high of Sunday’s random and hilarious shenanigans I felt like I was leaving Las Vegas with a whole army of bloggers in my corner. I left feeling like, no matter what, there was someone I could reach out too, that no matter what, I had a cheering section, that I wasn’t alone, that the big group of girlfriends I’ve been craving in my life had actually been there all along (along with some pretty cool guys, too), just waiting for me to reach out for them.
I didn’t know what to expect going in. I didn’t know how I would feel when faced with a literal herd of bloggers and to be honest I was so scared I’d clam up upon arrival, or make a poor impression, or get overwhelmed by the grandness of flying to Vegas to meet so many strangers. I was afraid there would be too many cliques, that everyone would have already tied themselves into groups, but what I got was a completely different experience. What I got was the friendliest, most amazing group of people I have every encountered.
I didn’t expect to come away with so much. I expected to meet people, sure, to get to know people a little better, but I didn’t expect to trade secrets, I didn’t expect to meet people and instantly feel like I’ve know them forever and a day, to feel like they’ve seen my heart and get me in ways so many others don’t.
Something sad happened Friday night, and while it’s not my story to tell, I can say the experience, the being there for a blogger turned dear friend, also made me hyper-aware of how real the friendships are. The relationships I’ve built are genuine, actual. They’re not for show, they’re legitimate, honest friendships that cause me to hurt when a friend hurts, to laugh when a friend laughs.
As it turns out, the internets are real.
& a massive THANK YOU to all of our amazing sponsors: the beautiful Flamingo Hotel & Casino, Shatterboxx, Absinthe, Babeland, Hair Flairs, Sprayology (which absolutely did clear a fogging, hangover headache), SKYY Vodka, Think Geek (who gave us the cutest panties!), Bitter Baking Company (the cookies – SO GOOD!), Davide Saxe Production, BuildASign.com, Vita CoCo, Swiss Maid Fudge (it basically tasted like heaven), nuNAAT (made my hair super silky smooth for the Black, White & Gold party), USA Pears, Sir Richard’s Condom Company, Pop Chips (they are basically the best chip in the entire world and I really need to go and gather a few bushels of them to satisfy my cravings), twisted sista, & Pink Kisses.
& to Nicole, for making this amazing and life changing thing happen.