All weekend long, I've been starting posts about BlogHer in my head.
Some of them were funny (more making fun of myself), and some of them were serious. I thought about all the different ways I'd talk about my experiences, my expectations and my hopes, all of that.
But in all honesty, I cried my way through the whole damn thing.
It started on Thursday, at the Pathfinder events, where I saw Katherine at lunch and managed to say hello, only to burst into tears of gratitude and just overwhelming emotion, because know it or not, that lady helped to save my life three years ago. I apologized and apologized for crying and she told me it was okay, that everyone cries when they meet her, and then she helped me wipe away my stray eyeliner and mascara and I pulled it together to continue the day. (It didn't help that she said she knew who I was, because I guess I assumed all this time that being an avatar behind a Twitter handle kind of made me invisible, so to be acknowledged as a previously-known human being was somehow heartbreaking in a good way. It's very hard to explain.)
The rest of the conference is pretty much a blur of tears and kindness and moments of panic that caused me to literally run to Central Park to get away from it all, only to feel so vastly alone and lost that a phone call to my husband in efforts to talk me down sent me over the edge again.
I read once that New York is the only place you can cry in public and no one judges you, because of the fierce anonymity among a humongous populous.
Well, I'm here to tell you that people still stare. No one talks to you, but they sure as hell notice and aren't shy about sizing you up with your makeup all over the place, soggy crumpled tissues in hand while you choke out words that barely even make sense to you, never mind the person you're trying to talk to.
I tried to be a grown-up, professional woman and ended up losing it in front of Tanis and Shannon, who rescued me and took me to Katie and Heather, all of whom had the gracious humility to be kind and talk to me and be of comfort. I met Jenna and Karen and could barely hold it together because in that moment, I was so relieved to just have people around who let me tag along for a while. I met Susan who told me she wanted to protect me which both left me relieved and brokenhearted because apparently I'm not as good at hiding my fragility as I thought. I met Maggie and spent more time with her and Katherine bawling my eyes out in the Serenity Suite, without which I surely would have begun just walking home.
I think I managed to approach people maybe three times and not lose my everloving shit. Two of those people looked terrified. But that's also perhaps because my face was so swollen from crying all the goddamn time that I'd given up on makeup and contacts nearly entirely and maybe they thought I had something contagious, I don't know.
So right now, all I can think about my experience at BlogHer is how incredibly embarrassed I am, that I met all of these women (and a few men) whose writing I admire and who are, to me, freaking superstars, and I just made an ass of myself over and over and over again. And while people were so incredibly, undeservingly kind to me, I hate that the impression I left was of a scared little girl and not a capable, intelligent woman.
I'm actually sobbing as I write this, that's how much I'm kicking myself for how this past weekend went.
Maybe in a few days, I'll be able to find the positives, or not just want to hide in a hole and pretend it never happened. There was goodness, I know there was, but it's hard to describe those fleeting moments as I peer out from under the umbrella of my own shame and deflated self-confidence.
But for now, apparently I need to have my umpteenth ugly cry in the last five days and probably take a shower or a nap or both and adjust to being at home again, the school year starting tomorrow, and all of the usual stressors that are more familiar than those that come from meeting your idols behind incoherent sobs and mascara-streaked glasses.