Note -- this is a duplicate of my post at the JPFitness Blog.
No Small Talk
I've been trying to come up with something to say about the '08 Summit and it's been really hard. I've been home almost a week, and the melancholy feeling is still hanging on a bit. But, that's okay. I have great memories, feeling, and friendships to drive that feeling. I wouldn't give that up.
Hmmm... "Friendship" is the primary word. I can't say fitness is secondary, because fitness is why we were there, directly or indirectly. The forum is the why and the how of knowing each other. Friendships that are, for some, closer ones than we have with many or our local friends. This technology of the internet is a true blessing in this respect.
I flew out from Orange County by myself. I figured I'd get to Little Rock, and Erika would swing by, as planned. I'm sitting in Dallas, and Rob strolls up. "Hi, Rob." "Hi, Roland." I move my bag and Rob sits down. Two years it's been since we've actually seen each other and we pick up pretty smoothly. No small talk, it's right to an actual conversation. Rob's my friend.
We get to Dallas (I'll admit it felt odd that Rob and I weren't seated together on the plane to LR) and gather up with more friends. Nick's there, as is Craig. New to the Summit is Doug, but he's sitting there with Craig, hanging out for a few.
Realizing that I've got ride space galore, I get on the phone with Erika; give her some of her time back. "That's nice of Nick, but I'll come say "hi" anyway!" ...and she does come, just to say "hi" to us. Pretty soon, we've got a little crowd in baggage claim, chatting away, skipping the small talk, and having a great time -- Erika's youngest, even! Our bags are quick to come down the chute and we all take off for the hotel. So far, a strangely fun experience in LR, so far.
The whole weekend went like that airport meeting did. Afternoon at the hotel, the group got larger. JP and Erika's house, larger still. My friend Shannon, who I'd never even seen was there to greet me when I came back to the hotel. We picked up verbally, right were those emails left off!
Friday was no different, as more and more folk showed up at the gym and the hotel. I'm afraid I'll leave too many great people and details out if I drone on too long; this is about the reasons for being there and friendships. Details be damned, it's the whole of the people who were there that's important.
Friends came from all over the country and all over the world to see each other in Little Rock. You don't hop on a plane in Canada, Bulgaria, or England unless you have friends to greet you at the other end; Little Rock, Arkansas.
When you're there, you never want to walk away from the conversation you're having, because it's going to be a year before you see your friend again. Yet, if you don't move on to another friend, it' might be a missed opportunity until next year. Jeez! There's only so much time. Never enough.
People who haven't been to a Summit before might have scoffed at the build up that we had to this thing on the forum. A countdown thread. Anticipation posts. Packing updates. Man, it was like a kid trying to get to sleep on Christmas Eve for most of us. But, next year, you go, too! You'll feel it. You might feel silly, but it'll be the best silly ever. Trust me.
When the end came, it came too quickly. There were, seemingly, many ends, though. We had an end party in the hotel lobby, blogging, drinking shakes, and laughing until late in the evening. We said our goodbyes to the people that were leaving early the next morning. Despite that, there were even more goodbyes the next day, as we met in the lobby to see each other off. A goodbye workout, as the group got even smaller. A smaller goodbye lunch. A smaller goodbye coffee. I've lost count. Finally, I was the last one out. At least until Galya leaves in still a few more weeks time. Airport time for me...
How many of you have missed a plane flight? It might have been canceled, you got there too late, oversold, etc. It had never happened to me before.
When she dropped me off, Erika had joked, smiling, that the flight might end up being canceled, but I'd scoffed. Late, maybe. Not canceled.
Later, when the gate attendant made the announcement that some people weren't going to make it on the plane because they needed to lighten the load, I perked up and secretly wished for it to be me. One more day with the friends that were still there in Little Rock? I tried to appear as heavy as possible. ...and I got my wish.