I had this inchoate dread of attending this year's Netroots Nation. An awful trepidation that someone really bad was going to happen.
And something did, so my psychic street cred is now awesome.
The rest is below the NecroKosIcon, from whence I draw my paranormal powers....
My flights were timely and uneventful departing from Charlotte to San Jose. That was the first sign that something was amiss. In times past I've been delayed, bumped, had the fracking GATE shut in my face. But...no. My wife dropped me off, so I didn't have the usual nightmare of parking on the back side of the runway. The self-check in process was smooth. TSA Security line moved smoothly.
Something was up. I could feel it.
It just gets worse. Having a craving for Diet Doctor Pepper, a harder thing to find in convenience and sundries stores than you might imagine... I found two bottles. I bought them. I was asked to donate to the USO. I did so. The DDP (a play on DDT) was tasty. The bottle didn't even overflow with fizz as DDP bottles usually do.
It was all going TOO well!
I board the plane. I had no problem finding overhead storage. I had an aisle seat. The gate closed with all passengers aboard and relaxed. The plane taxied out to the runway and left for Dallas. On time.
Oh, cruel fate!
We reached cruising altitude. Permission to turn on electronic devices was given. I had a full charge on my laptop. Between the Dallas and the San Jose leg, I wrote eight new pages on my story draft. That's not bad for a few hours combined. Heck, it's not bad for a few days. Sent to my front-line copy editor, my wife, via Facebook. She liked.
Alright, now I know something wicked this way comes.
Even the ever-pithy observation rich Dallas Fort Worth airport produced a gold mine of pithy observables. I saw hats, and lots of them. I saw Eighties-era big hair. I saw a very impressive haze-free vista of both Dallas and Forth Worth on the horizon. Though of course you have to look back and forth like at a tennis match because of the spacing. I imagined a future where the entire southern horizon was all glass. I thought of how all of this was once just, what? Mesquite and jacarandas and live oaks?
The sky train worked. It was on time. It was air conditioned. I got to my next terminal easily. Being hungry, I easily obtained access to provender. The Wendy's single with cheese was a touch on the cold side... not wait, it was plenty warm and tasty. I couldn't even complain about airport food. W.T.F.
It's a conspiracy!
On top of it all, when I arrived in San Jose - early - I had easy and clear instructions on how to reach the light rail network. And the weather was monstrously good - in the sixties, not a cloud in the sky. Why, there wasn't even humidity!
The San Jose light rail was offensively cheap - two bucks one way. It was clean. My fellow passengers were friendly. The view out the window was pleasant. Saw Japantown, saw the Basilica of Saint Joseph. Saw a conductor checking passes. Had my ticket stub. All was golden. Trip took perhaps 20-30 minutes longer than if I had taken a cab, and I had time.
I even saved money. Really, this was getting unconscionable.
So, I arrive at the convention center stop. I walk into the Hilton on the notion I'd see someone I know. In rapid order I see Sam Seder, Meteor Blades and Lefty Coaster.
It was too auspicious.
Well, my hotel was on the other end of the convention center so I walk, easily and in unnaturally good cheer, to registration. I get my convention badge. No wait in line because no one else is there.
I proceed to my hotel, the Sainte Claire. I check in. It's quick. I don't get a long lecture about all the awesomeness. I just get my key cards and a room number with my wi fi code and I'm sent on my way. My kind of customer service.
I get to the room. It's snug but nice. The hotel is second-closet to the main portion of the convention and yet a touch off the beaten path. No risk of late night parties next door. I prefer to be a guest not an uninvited host.
I go running, to explore a bit. It's nice. The drivers are well-trained and perfunctory if not particularly courteous. This is California. The roads are theirs, the sidewalk is mine. An appropriate division of the urban ecology.
I get cleaned up for the Cheers and Jeers dinner. I run into peeps headed the same way, a way I know because I scouted out the Britannia Arms (host restaurant) location on my run. Yay, intelligence gathering. Yes, I am saying that in this of all weeks.
My eyes (a different spelling of I this time) are drawn to perhaps the loveliest sight I had beheld that day: Giant people-tall pipes full of beer. I have a Sierra Nevada pale ale. The only thing that would have made that Homer Simpson-like religious experience more exalted would have been the presence of Duff's.
Finally! Something wrong! Reality is reasserting itself! Except...no. Not really.
It just gets betterworse. I have a salad. It's exquisite. I'll give California its props it can feed face with the best of them. Everything, down to the catered lunch on Saturday, was delish. My Sunday breakfast was a red onion and bacon omelet. I may never eat again...except for the one..two...three meals I have had since then.
Anyway, back to C&JStock: Familiar faces and names and DKOS handles pour in. Smileycreek, Vicki, Sidnora, Markos, Joan, Susan, Jen (don't call her Scout Finch), brillig, mik, kidbrillig, Armando, Navajo and far, far more. It's at once like meeting people you work/blog with every day and seeing relatives you only meet once a year at most. The tension between the mundane familiar and the delight of reconnection with old friends is at the heart of what's best in the NN experience. I won't snark about that at all.
Which brings me at last to what went so wrong. I had finished a round of chats and was standing on the back side of the beer pipes and looked around.
This place is going to break my heart yet again, I knew.
Because this time, I'm really going to hate leaving. Because this time, for the first time since the first of the conventions in 2006, I really felt at home.
Damn you, perfect moments and days. And bless you, every one.