I went to #StorylineConf which to the rest of the world is just Storyline Conference in Chicago but those of us who were there and on twitter it was basically Christmas as one of my new friends put it. That hashtag brought people together and it got a little nutty. I don't think I've been on twitter that much and for an actual useful event...ever. At one point I actually hunted down a guy (I didn't know) from International Justice Mission on twitter and told him to meet me by the balloons in the lobby, all creepy-like. I wasn't trying to be weird and I think he was used to it being tied to D.C. and cool but he informed me I have trouble with landmarks. I guess the balloons where near impossible to find. Lesson: I should not be a spy with secret meets after all.
In no particular order, here were some other highlights:
-meeting new friends including friends in real life a.k.a. Beth from Simply Beth. This was one of my most faves. She picked me up at the airport when I got to town, y'all. She'd never met me, only through blogging. Still, there she was to as the first face I saw when I got to Chicago. This older gentleman I sat next to on the airplane going up there -- who I kept referencing a lot over the weekend -- said that must say something about my life if I'm having an electronic, e-friend (what does that even mean?!) come pick me up, but actually I think it says more about her.
-oh, and no big deal, I didn't have to get one cab ride while I was in the city. Seems like a small thing but I was trusting God with this whole trip from the start. I didn't think I'd have finances or time off to go, but God kept providing. The weekend was so relaxing and I know that played a part.
-I got to ride a train for the first time in years! I like trains more than I do cars and I've missed them.
I also get a thrill out of jumping on the train at the last possible second. I was in the hotel shuttle and the gps told me we would arrive the exact minute the train left and I think the words "can we try and hustle, we have one minute?!" came out of my mouth. No shame.
(this proves I got on the train)
-I got to see Chicago with my cousin. We had fun. She noticed I was all kinds of sentimental after that conference. She took me on a walk before we high tailed it back to the airport, this time by car. At one point, she was going to throw me on another train but that didn't work either. Are we seeing a theme?
I only wonder what my daily life would be like if I lived in a bigger city.
I didn't even tell you anything about the actual conference yet.
This is why I am writing a book about my everyday encounters with interesting people. It lights me up and gives me energy and I forget to tell you where the momentum behind it came from.
All the stories, all the wisdom. Donald Miller. Shauna Niequist. Scott Hamilton. Bob Goff. They left me on an inspiration high.
I've been writing my 'book' about people and encounters and experiences with strangers, the unplanned kind, for awhile now. It seems to happen daily, but I've just started incorporating it into story.
Problem is, I can write a book in my head for years. Eight years even. That's how long Don Miller says he might need to process something while someone like Bob Goff is out doing it after the first second. He doesn't wait.
I am not a waiter on everything, but I do let ideas sit and go stagnate. For what?
I may need more time to discover all that the conference was teaching me and that's okay. I know I need time to sit with ideas that are meaningful to me.
BUT, it's not okay that life keeps happening and I am letting moments pass by that I know I'm supposed to write down.
As I was leaving on the train, two guys from behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me where I was going. The luggage was a dead giveaway. One of them was obviously drinking and me from a few years ago would have just moved along. Who has time for a conversation that could just get weird? By the end of it, though, like every other time I've decided to engage with someone who is willing to talk, I'm happy I did. Turns out they sell insurance to mega churches and we got on the topic of spirituality and Jesus. Jesus and beer and a train makes for deep conversation somehow. And they asked about my writing because they wondered why I was in Chicago and nonchalantly I let them know they might be included in a book someday.
Someday is a joke. I repeat. Someday is a joke!
They tell me they are going to look for it in a year and set some kind of alarm or scheduled appointment on their phones.
I get nervous. I know I can't wait eight years now but a year is a very short time.
I need a little wiggle room, I plead with these strangers.
"What if I'm not done by then?"
What if you really look me up and I'm an epic fail is what I really mean.
It's in their phone. I gave them the predicted name of the book. If I keep this up I am going to have 87 disgruntled new friends, I think to myself.
"It's okay," Paul tells me (always learn their names, I realize after I talked with direction-guy tonight, or you will give them nicknames). "I'll just push it back a year. We'll look again."
Something changed in me at that moment. I told my friend later that all of a sudden it became 'our book'
Umm...that's too deep, she said. These are strangers...
I laughed. Yep. There I go again.
All kinds of sentimental.