As I rode the train to the BlogHer conference, I was scared. I was so nervous I thought I was going to be sick. I was going to something that was so beyond my comfort zone and I was going alone.
I knew no one.
Well I "knew" some people, but I had never met them. My two worlds, the world inside my computer and the world outside of it were going to connect. And I wasn't really sure what was going to happen. Would they like me? Would I like them? Would I be able to unfreeze my tongue and actually speak to them? Would I hide in the back of the room? Or would I hide out in my room, only venturing out for panels and food?
And then it hit me, I didn't have a room for Thursday night. I had no place to hide. I would be forced to mix and mingle. Because, in a totally uncharacteristic move, I asked someone I didn't know (in real life) if I could crash in their room. I couldn't very well be anti-social since they were being so nice to me. So I opened my mouth and words actually came out.
The more I spoke and the more I was spoken too, the more I relaxed. Maybe I could do this, maybe I would actually have fun. So I went with it, speaking to everyone I met and having fun along the way.
When I finally did retreat to my room for the night to rest my aching head and tired feet, I found no comfort. There was only the choice between chairs and the floor. I tried scrunching my 5'10" frame into the arm chair and resting my feet on the desk chair. The floor was an option, but not an appealing one. I moved from chair to floor and back again, trying to find a place to rest. I looked enviously at the beds. Their occupants were deep in sleep, oblivious to the world around them. I wanted that, I needed that.
At 2 am, I was sitting on the floor, alone again. I realized that I had not quite overcome my discomfort. I could have asked someone else, someone with only one roommate, if I could have shared their room for the night instead of being the awkward fifth in a room of four. The women I met were kind and would not have turned me away. But I could not ask. I did not ask.
I woke up in the morning, feeling much older than my almost 40 years. My body hurt. My head ached. My nerves were raw. I was not looking forward to the day. I was looking forward to 3pm when I could check into my room and have a bed to myself. Bleary eyed and tired, I imagined that I would, in fact, retreat to my room.
But again, greetings were extended to me, arms waved me over, seats were saved for me. I was welcomed wholeheartedly into the community. Laughing and hugging and sharing stories soothed my aches and pains and rubbed away the jagged edges of my nerves. When it was time to check into my room and finally had my own bed, the wonderfully soft and comfy bed with its own gravitational pull, I did not want to stay there. I wanted to be out amongst the friends that I had made. I wanted to meet more people.
The last night of the conference, late at night, I sat on a bed. I was not alone. I was surrounded by people, real live people, my friends. We talked and laughed. We took pictures in an attempt to capture the moment. We talked some more. We laughed at things that are flappy. We created lasting memories.
I had finally found my comfort.