I just returned from the closing banquet. What an inspirational, life-affirming, relaxing, exhausting, stimulating, fun conference this was! I'm coming away with three specific new goals: a writing project, a homeschooling project, and an art project. I'm sure I'll write more about them in the weeks to come. And I'm coming away with that feeling I always have at the end of an Objectivist conference: the knowledge that, on the whole, Objectivists are the best people in the world.
My last conference was in 2007 in Telluride. Sam was 10 months old and we had just begun our nomadic adventures and I was so miserable that I didn't enjoy the conference much at all. Prior to that I attended the 1991, 1998, and 1999 conferences. I enjoyed all of those, but never had anything like the experience I had this year. This year, I had my own personal goals with which I could integrate what I was learning. This year, I had friends and acquaintances independent from Adam. (He knew so many people in '98 and '99 and it was hard for me to remember everyone I was introduced to--it was a bit overwhelming.) On top of that, I got to meet new friends whom I had only known electronically. The cool part was that I recognized them from their Facebook profile pictures so there was much less social anxiety of thinking, "I know this person but forgot his name," or "I want to catch up with so-and-so but I don't think I'd recognize her." No, this time, I knew who I knew and I met just enough new people so that I could keep them all straight. There are at least five people I can think of that I'm sure I will become closer to after spending time at the conference together. And for all of my other friends who were here, I was able to spend quite a bit of time with them, cementing our relationships even more.
Objectivists are an amazing group. Most are warm and friendly, successful, lively, intelligent, interesting, and, yes, HAPPY! Tonight I watched Dr. Ellen Kenner, who must be in her mid fifties, dancing joyfully with her husband and others, wearing a sexy, sparkly, backless top - the kind designed for college kids. She looked great and I noted that it takes a real benevolent sense of life to dress like that. She is young at heart and bursting with joy. Watching her captured the essence of what I feel about the people at this conference. People talked passionately late into the night, not about abstract ideas (although that did occur too) but about their careers, or their kids, home improvement projects, their pets, their local Objectivist clubs, the activism work they do, etc. etc. etc. These people are passionate valuers who use Objectivism as a tool to enhance their lives. It's not just some academic game. There is a really great culture growing in Objectivism now, and I am honored to be a part of it. I'm getting a little teary just thinking about all of the incredible people I spent time with this week.
But now, the time has come. We leave for Florida tomorrow. I can feel no sadness in leaving, even this most wonderful event, because tomorrow I see my daughter for the first time in nine days. She seems to have handled the separation well, and Adam and I were doing fine - until yesterday. I started really missing her and just wanted the conference to be over. We stayed out very late last night and had a few drinks and when we woke up, we decided to bail on the classes and spend the whole day in our hotel room. I'm sorry I missed the last two lectures, but I was just done. Stick a fork in me, I'm done. I managed to get dressed up and attend the closing banquet, and I even enjoyed it a little bit, but those big events are not really my cup of tea. So here I am, back in the hotel room, ready to curl up with an Agatha Christie book and count the hours until I can put my arms around my little girl. We're coming home tomorrow, Sam! We miss you! We love you!