After Bloggers in Sin City back in May I realized having bloggers in my life was mandatory to my sanity and survival. I was hooked. Sure, I’d rolled my eyes at the love-fest whoop-de-doo before attending, but then I went, subsequently got it and realized that my life is better when it’s populated with people from the internet.
When the 20sb Summit was announced shortly after BiSC, I was intrigued, although felt unsure about whether I should attend given my decidedly lazy and virtually nonexistent participation on the 20sb site. I joined the community a long time ago, back in 2007, just a few short months after it was birthed, but I haven’t been active in years and feared the Summit would leave me feeling out of the loop and disconnected from the community.
I knew I wanted to get to Chicago at some point, partly because of the fabulous bloggers who live there, but also because I’d never visited and have been meaning to experience the city for some time.I mentioned it to Andrew – a trip to Chicago, not the Summit – and mentioned that maybe we should go visit for Labor Day weekend. He agreed and we started planning. But then some of the people I met in Vegas started talking about the Summit and Caryn, who lives in Chicago and who might be my soul’s twin sister, started convincing me that I should come to Chicago for the Summit, that I could stay with her, that all I’d have to do was buy a plane ticket. I thought about it a lot. I wondered if I was a crazy person for booking two trips to Chicago nearly back to back or if it was insane to go and stay with someone I’d only spent a few hours with, or if the magic of Las Vegas would hold in Chicago. But then I asked myself if I knew where worrying about the sanity of taking a grand adventure would get me and realized the answer was absolutely fucking nowhere.
So then, in the middle of Target with Andrew, texting Caryn back and forth, pondering the situation and trying to listen to what my gut was telling me to do, I remembered declaring this year a year of BIG THINGS and said FUCK IT. I’d go to Chicago for the Summit and Andrew and I’d go back two weeks later for vacation as well, because why the fuck not? Because there’s no good reason not to. Because travel is my life. Because worrying about grand adventures instead of taking grand adventures is not the way I want to live.
I got to Chicago just on time Friday evening. We had a cocktail reception at the Sax Hotel‘s beautiful Crimson Lounge, wine supplied by Murphy-Goode Winery, and I enjoyed piles of hugs from bloggers I hadn’t seen since leaving Las Vegas.
Saturday and Sunday were filled with brilliant sessions and keynote speakers whose words have inspired me to take a good hard look at the life I’m living and make some serious changes to the way I go about my day, to the way I manage the ideas and thoughts in my head and the path I’m paving for my future. I made new friends, met bloggers I’ve been reading and crushing on for years and years and laughed so hard I cried (due in large part to comedy troupe Octavarius and one hilarious cat impersonation).
There were so many good moments, so many chance meetings, so many good and great conversations and connections made that I wish I had a Pensieve, a la Dumbledore, in which to drop them, one by one, so I could, at will, escape to the murky waters of memories and relive the whole damn thing all over again.
After the closing comments on Sunday there was a second when none of us moved. Derek said “that’s a wrap” and no one stirred. We weren’t ready yet. We needed one more second of it, one more small, little bite to satiate our cravings until the next go round. To me, that moment speaks loudly of the brilliance of the weekend and the Summit. It’s rare that I’ve spent two days at a conference and been sad to see it end, sad to go home, but there I was, sad to see it ending, sad that it was time to say goodbye.
After meandering back to Caryn’s apartment to pack, we headed to a bar in Wicker Park to celebrate Katherine‘s birthday and to say goodbye one last time. My flight time meant that I had to take my suitcase with me, and, worse, had to be the first to leave. In Vegas, I was one of the last to the leave and it was easy. There weren’t tears from me in Vegas because I wasn’t the one walking away, not until the very, very end when everyone else had gone before me. But in Chicago? In Chicago I had to rustle up the courage to pick up my bag (okay fine, Caryn picked up my bags for me) and walk away from people who have literally changed my life and sparked my inspiration.
So I cried. And not just a few, graceful little tears. No, no. I ugly cried in front of the internet.
But the cool thing about the internet is that it helps you wipe away your tears.
Top 5 Lessons Learned from the Inaugural 20sb Summit
1. The internet is amazing. No shit. For real. The internet is populated with people who are changing the world, with people sharing amazing and brilliant lessons on how to live full, creative and wild lives. It’s a game-changer, a life-changer, a tool that has provided me people who are quickly becoming some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
2. Vulnerability is mandatory. If I want to like what I write, and if I have any hope of you liking what I write, I’ve got to be willing to open myself up and be vulnerable. There are posts I have almost written, over and over again, about topics I’ve hid from for a long time. It’s time they saw some light.
3. I need goals. My 101 in 1001 list might be up there, but I’ve largely forgotten about it. I think it’s Life List time. I think it’s time I make some decisions on where I want to be in a year or five and start making plans for the bigger and better things I want to be getting out of my life.
4. I’ve got to have faith.Trusting that something or someone will help me up after a fall, and trusting that there’s something there to grab hold of when I take giant leaps is the way I need to live my life. Nervously inching toward the edge, afraid to fall or of what happens next will do nothing to advance me toward my goals.
5. It’s all true. All that hokey shit I rolled my eyes at about friendships blossoming through computer screens is real, legit shit. So too, is all the cheesy shit your great aunt Edna sends in chain mails – shoot for moon and even if you miss you’ll land among the stars, dream big, don’t be afraid to chase your dreams – seriously. It’s true and right and damn good, if cheesy, advice.
All in all, not a bad way to spend to a weekend.