I had the best time ever at this weekend's conference in Chicago. The conference itself was hit and miss as some sessions were extremely informative while others offered nothing new or relevant. Of course I didn't go to the conference for the information; I went to connect with my friends on our online board. I haven't seen them in a year and I've missed them. Seeing people online is no substitute for meeting and hanging out with them in person.
I really connected with people this weekend in a way that I haven't done in a long time. There have been times that I've come away from these things feeling a bit like I don't fit in. Somehow, this time I felt like I really belonged. Maybe it's because I made a couple of real friends - not just people that I know and talk to, but people that I feel like I could (and will) stay in touch with outside of the board and facebook statuses, if that makes sense. I already knew one person and this weekend we got to know each other much better. Another person and I just clicked, and another couple of people and I got along super-well (if we'd talked on our own, we'd have clicked, I think).
Another reason I felt like I belonged is that people came up to me and told me that they really wanted to meet me. I want to meet everyone but I haven't always felt like other people want to meet me, you know? I've also struggled with feeling like I haven't got much to contribute on the board because my cancer is so stable and I was so happy when people told me that they wanted to know how I was doing, that they followed my updates, and that they did want to hear from me.
The only down side to the trip (aside from the fact that I had no time to go shopping) was that my sternum has been aching since yesterday and I've been in agony. My painkiller patches are up to date and working well so I don't know what's going on. I suspect it has something to do with flying and the pressurized aircraft but I don't actually know. I'm taking supplemental painkillers and taking it easy.
Sternal pain aside, I can't help but notice that the last two trips I've taken have been the best ever and that I've come back feeling happy and connected to people. I think that the work I've been doing with my psychologist over the last year has been making a huge difference in the way I'm approaching and thinking about these trips. I love love love this change.
I'm so happy that I had such a great time on this trip. I'm can barely wait for the next one.