A conference is like a theatre production. A marathon. A community event. A childbirth. Moving house.
Rush and noise and excitement and energy and frustration and new people and hard work. Adrenaline and boredom and getting lost.
Stray dogs, gas leaks, brilliant observations, clasping hands with strangers, insomnia, homesickness. Sensory overload. The musky smell of strangers, the way his coat feels against my ear, the speckles in her eyes and how she hides her face in her hands in embarrassment when someone compliments her about them.
Writing brief descriptions of people on their business cards so I might remember who belongs to which when I get home. Worrying they might see them and feel hurt by being reduced to a brief reference “black hair, laughs a lot”, “husband and wife team, he’s a sculptor”.
Facial blindness making it difficult to find the speaker in the crowd afterwards to say hello or thankyou or I liked this point or that idea. Anxiety that I’ll shake the wrong hand and launch into an idea from the talk leaving a trail of baffled non-speakers wondering who this strange person was and what they were taking about.
On the train home now. Bus, train, train, bus, flight, friend in a car. I yearn for home. I want to see my loves, smell familiar smells.
I’m tired. My eyes are hot and heavy, my voice husky. I feel content. A completed thing. It’s done and was worth all the effort. I’m bringing gifts home with me, new knowledge, new ideas, new connections. New friends, new opportunities, new networks. Ideas challenged, or deepened, or spoken of in a different language with its own nuances and perspective. Great richness for me, and great richness I hope for my networks, my family, my arts practice, my communities.
Thankyou for all those who have supported me to get here, and once I was here, and getting home again, with food, transport, donations towards the costs, conversation, hugs, kindness, and caring for Rose back home who had been extremely sick with bronchitis and asthma. Your kindness and faith in me is so appreciated. I hope I have represented you well. I am not alone but part of a tribe, many tribes.