To all my conference friends

Thank you.

Thank you for helping me decompress after being at the whims of our aviation industry.

Thank you for finding me in the airport, out of sorts and weighed down like a burro. Thank you for smiling like you know me. At that moment, wherever I have landed, when I see your happy face, I feel like I’m in the place I should be.

Thank you for talking to me at the registration desk about wanting to see my paper. It sort of made me realize that some people prepare more before they get here than me. (I mean, I didn’t know if you had a presentation or not). But, it also made me feel good that what I do matters to people.

Thank you for chatting with me in line for coffee. I had never known about your museum or your challenges. And, if you hadn’t turned to me in line, I never would. I loved learning a little and getting caffeinated a lot.

Thank you for letting me huddle on the floor near your chair beside the coveted, and singular, outlet in this conference room. Sure, its a little closer than we are used to in everyday life. But, you get it. You know that live-tweeting drains a battery but keeps you focused on the talk.

Thank you for passing on that map as we were rushing to the next conference session, helping me find Orca, Monongahela, Hidalgo, or Ballroom X. Thank you for laughing about how ridiculous the names were.

Thank you for laughing full stop. Thank you for your full laugh, head back, jackle cackle. Thank you for your chuckle. Thank you for your quiet giggle. Thank you for your sly smile.

Thank you for all the effort you put into happy hours, breakfasts, dancing, and karaoke. Those experiences cement connections unlike any other. After all, you will never unsee me dancing, unhear my bad singing, or unknow my stupid stories. And, thank you for liking me anyway.

Thank you for listening to my presentation. Thank you for your nods and for laughing at my off-hand jokes. Thank you for tweeting what I said, because I never remember. Thank you for your thoughtful questions. Thank you for pushing back and helping me refine my ideas.

Thank you for treating me like a colleague, rather than a peon or a mark. Thank you for not bailing on me for that deputy director, CEO, or vendor with the expense account.

Thank you for the drink you picked up, and the good humor you added. Thank you for the comraderie and the funny, funny stories.

Thank you for making me feel sane and knowing that work is a little crazy. Thank you for making me realize that I am not alone. Thank you for holding me up when I feel like I might stumble. Thank you for dragging me along when I look like I might freeze. Thank you for pulling me up when I look like I might tumble.

Thank you for your empathy when I admit my challenges. Thank you for your stories about your struggles. Thank you for your honesty and your trust.

Thank you for making me better at my job. Thank you for your inbox ideas, your plans for streamlining this process, your caveats on that delivery tool. Thank you for all the practical advice that you pass on.

Thank you for sharing you. Thank you for bringing the real you — the one who has cracks and chinks. That is the you that makes all of the trade-offs worth it. When we are open and vulnerable, we share real ideas. We talk in ways that we can’t at home. We get at the heart of the work. The good and the bad are revealed in their awesome glory. We struggle with the incipient, protean ideas together. Like a slow dance, we sway together towards shared understandings and new beginnings.