But even after getting my hands on a set of three foot tall frizzed out bangs and my brother’s button-fly hand-me-down-jeans, I still felt like an outcast. I was different —awkward. And as much as I fought myself and tried to be someone else, I always ended up being exactly who I was: an insecure loner with a mouth like a sailor seeking permission to be just that.
When I heard about the BlogU Conference, I was elated. It was exactly what I had been looking for: a small conference hosted by all of my favorite writers. These were women I admired… women I adored… women I wanted to become. And I knew if I went, I would more than likely get to meet each one of them in person.
This is it. This is what I’ve been searching for.
The morning of registration was nothing short of rapture. I was excited, eager, apprehensive, nervous and just a little bit scared to death. I never went to college and we were staying IN THE DORMS at Notre Dame University in Baltimore, Maryland.
What if I was the oldest one there?
What if no one knew who I was?
What if everyone knew who I was but only because I sucked as a writer?
What if I was forced to use their Orange is the New Black shower stalls and dropped my soap?
What if I develop a foot fungus?
What if… what if… what if?
When I arrived at the dorms: alone, starving, confused, 2-1/2 hours early and dying of thirst, my heart began to tremble. There were no bellmen; no one to haul my bags up the stairs and offer a cheerful hello. There were only three of us: me, Sasypiehole (note spelling), Abandoning Pretense and the Outmanned Mommy. And that’s when it all went downhill.
There were two of them. They were young and fresh-faced college girls ready to check us in and send us on our way. “Kristen Mae… perfect… I have you right here… you’re in room 138!” she cooed while handing her a golden key. “And Mary Widdicks… Ahh… THERE you are!”
“So far so good,” I thought as I eased my way to the side of the desk.
Her: “What did you say your name was?”
Me: “Lisa LeClair.”
Me: “L – E – C – L – A – I – R.”
Me: “Is there a problem?”
Her: “Can you spell that again?”
We went round and round, dancing like fools through the alphabet with no resolution in sight. I was simply unregistered.
Her: “Um… It looks like we don’t have room for you.”
WHAT?! No room?! You’re kidding, right?
Confident of my ability to NOT ONLY secure the room I had originally booked, but (now) one with its own private bathroom, I leaned in to scan the page for my name.
Her: “Don’t worry, we have some open rooms available. If we have to, we can just put you in a double room by yourself. Just give us some time to figure it out.”
Did I mention I was thirsty?
Two hours later, I was unpacked and ready to face the world. But first, I needed a drink.
Me: “Do you guys got a Coke machine down here? I’m DYING!”
Her: “Oh sure… Just go through that door, turn left and it’s the third room on the left.”
Me: *Goes through door* *Turns left* *Counts three* *Turns left*
But wait… What’s THIS?
In the end, we walked away with more than any of us had hoped to gain. Instead of simply being schooled like the website claimed, we were transformed. In a matter of 2.5 days, the people at BlogU took a sea of awkward insecurity and converted it into acceptance. For once in our lives, we were free to be exactly who we were: freaks, geeks, and socially unacceptable misfits. We checked our pretension like baggage and left them behind in our rooms. There were no eye-rolls that weekend or catty little digs in the locker room; just real people being real and embracing all the others for they were.
It was glorious. We laughed… we cried… we drank… we danced… we read to each other… and listened. And as if that weren’t enough, we learned a whole bunch of really cool shit from some kick-ass writers who were JUST LIKE US.
I guess if I had to sum up my experience in just one word, it would be “magical.” But if you gave me two more, I would plant a giant seed in your 2016 budget and tell you what the BlogU Conference really was: Worth. Every. Penny.
And I can’t wait to do it again!
Who’s going next year?