As I drove home from night two of BlogHer I started to cry.
I was lucky this year. BlogHer, the largest blogging conference in the country, was hosted in my hometown of Chicago. This meant easy travel from my condo to the conference. Actually, it was kind of a hassle. Sure I saved some dough by not having to spring for a hotel, but I was traveling back and forth at least once a day. Each time I parked it was $36. I had to go home to let the dog out.
On the first night I was invited to a wonderful dinner by my friend Tracy Beckerman of LostInSuburbia. At the meal were twenty of my favorite bloggers. Some funny, some serious. All awesome. This is my fourth blog conference and over the course of these events I’ve developed relationships that evolve each time we meet.
After dinner my new friend Julie DeNeen took me out for dessert. She gets a mention because she spent $8 on my chocolate molten lava cake.
As a humor blogger I tend to seek out other humor writers. And this conference has a lot. To have the funniest of the funny in one location for three days is damned exciting. Pretty much everyone who’s fun comes to BlogHer.
Last year I only knew three people going to the conference. This year I knew over a hundred. I would say thirty or so are actual friendships. People I actually long to see.
When I first arrived at the hotel I scanned the lobby for familiar faces. I found several. Over the course of the weekend the others emerged. You find that even though there’s six thousand people there, you find your tribe. And it’s a really fulfilling experience for me.
We’re writers. We need to be around other writers. We get each other’s head space. Also, we’re sort of nutso and have boundary issues. It’s okay, though, as we have each other.
The weekend blurred with lots of notetaking during sessions devoted to better writing. You also watch a lot of keynote speeches by famous people. Lastly, you dance. Lots of dancing.
I don’t know how many parties go on at BlogHer, but I bet it’s over thirty. I personally went to six. Most of the private events are invite only and sponsored by brands who want the bloggers to write about their products. I don’t usually get invited to these for obvious reasons.
Oh, while we’re on the subject let’s talk about the guy thing.
I estimate around a hundred guys attend BlogHer. After two years I don’t understand why more don’t. It’s just a shitload of fun. Most of my readers (I believe) are women. Most of my blogger friends are women. And hey, I like women. Makes all the sense in the world for me to attend.
Plus, the ladies have sort of adopted me into the tribe. As a man I get probably more attention than just being one of the thousands of women there. And, for me – the attention tramp I am – it’s a fun thing. Dancing at an all-women’s party is really an experience. You have to realize 90% of these women are married, so it’s a totally non-sexual event. A safe place. Somehow they don’t see me as a threat. I don’t know if that speaks to my masculinity. It probably does.
I got a little weepy (which almost never happens) on the drive home because I realized I have love for many of these attendees. We spend the year chatting online, reading and commenting on each other’s blogs, which are really extensions of our lives. Then, in person, you already know much of what is happening to them. “Sorry you got laid off,” or “Congrats to your kid for hitting the winning home run!” or “Did that bitch Betty ever get fired?”
We all desire connection and love. And two years ago I didn’t have a blog and I certainly didn’t read any. I now have a network of people who stay in touch and reach out. They love me – or at least as much as they can electronically. I love them. And once a year we get to be together to share this love. It’s often unsaid, but I can feel it. To think that this didn’t exist for me up until recently creates feelings of extreme gratitude.
And on the way home it sort of hit me all at once. I had just hung out with people from all over the country that like spending time with me. I consider myself to be very lucky.