I have always wanted to go to New York City. But I was also terrified to go to New York City. As I packed my bags and wrestled with sleep, a nervous ball settled in the pit of my stomach and wouldn’t leave, like when you’ve eaten too much queso, except that’s ridiculous because there’s really no such thing as too much queso.
It would be easier to just not go.
We paid for your trip. You’re going, whether you like it or not.
Travel itself doesn’t scare me. I like flying, and the people-watcher in me loves a good airport (side note: LaGuardia is NOT a good airport. It’s the asshole of all airports.). What made me nervous was being in a huge, scary new place. I get anxious about figuring out how to get from the airport to the hotel. Cabs, Lyft, Uber, creepy guys in suits who try to lure you into a parking garage. The sometimes optimist in me who tries to always see both sides of the story turns into a hardened cynic, totally certain everyone is trying to take advantage of me. No, I do NOT want a Rolex at good price, dear sir!
But I got a cab, thanks to the blogger I met at the airport who remembered there was a magical taxi stand around the corner that no one else knew about. I made it to my hotel, met up with my friends, and exchanged hugs and squeals. It all worked out fine and no one tried to mug me.
Last year, 2014, was my first BlogHer conference. I met a lot of people I had only known online. It was fun and surreal and exciting, but I felt like the in-law at a huge family reunion, following around my friends and allowing them to introduce me to people. I left the conference happy and full and very, very tired. That 2 hour time difference from central to pacific is no joke.
But 2014 me didn’t feel like the real me.
At BlogHer ’15 my friend Angela and I came across a booth in the expo hall for a company called My Intent, displaying simple and cool washer necklaces and bracelets. Pick a word, they said, a word that you love, a word that defines you, and we’ll stamp it for you.
I chose the word REAL.
Much hemming and hawing went on over this decision, and full disclosure, it only came to me because I found myself walking behind directly someone with the phrase REAL FOOD on the back of their t-shirt and my first thought was Hey, I like food! But then my second thought was Hey! Real! That’s my word! Because if life has taught me anything, it’s be yourself, and also to always go with the second idea that pops into your head.
This year, I felt REAL. I was myself. I felt comfortable.
I felt at home. At the conference. In the city. With my people.
New York City allows you to be another person, or at least another version of yourself. In New York City I was the version of myself that didn’t hesitate to run up and hug someone I’ve only met online. I was the version who made midnight runs to Ray’s Pizza, sitting and cackling with my girlfriends about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. I was the introvert who loved hiding in a sea of faces in Times Square. I could have sat for hours and just watched all of the amazing people passing through. Like this guy.
I’ve always strived to be real. But sometimes we need a reminder to stay true to ourselves and what we believe in. What I learned last weekend is that these women are creating some of the most important work in today’s media. I learned that I believe in so much more than I put out there. I learned that I stand for more than I vocalize, and maybe that needs to change. And I care so damn much about these people that share this little thing called blogging with me.