I spent the weekend shopping for bathroom fixtures for my upcoming ensuite renovation. It was by turns exciting and aggravating, poring over cabinet options, granite remnants and shower head options. Sometimes it felt like the whole experience was bringing more questions than answers. I don’t know the first thing about choosing tile. Who thought that it was a good idea to let me loose in a tile store?
My kids built a tower while I chose cabinetry
At one point I found myself walking down the street in my neighbourhood with my family, headed to a store that is only a few blocks from home to choose my new shower surround. It was a sunny day, and as my son insisted on pausing under a shady tree to take a rest (something he does every three minutes, whether he’s actually tired or not), I smelled a smell that brought me back in time. It was a spicy sort of smell, that speaks of hot dry days going on hikes with my parents. It smells like flowers and trees and alpine meadows and, most of all, summertime. It’s one of those elusive scents that you strain to pick out, and that hides from you until, suddenly, it hits you full force and you just want to bathe in it, it’s so perfect. But then, just as quickly, it disappears.
As we resumed walking, I looked around at my view. I saw a car repair shop, a vacant lot, a local sushi restaurant, houses and trees and cars and the mountain looming up to the north. Above the suburban ordinariness, there was the most perfectly blue sky. As I looked, it occurred to me that instead of standing in that spot, looking at my neighbourhood around me, I could have been in Chicago for BlogHer 2013.
I attended the annual blogging conference in 2011 and 2012, and I enjoyed it immensely. When you work online, as I do, you make a lot of friends who live far, far away. It’s easy to forget that these are real people, with real families, living real lives. They have funny little idiosyncratic turns of phrase. They are taller than you think, and their real-life voices sound totally different from the voice you read their blogs in. They may be funnier than you expected, or more reserved. Behind it all, though, the truth is that no matter who they are, they are part of your community. Getting to actually meet them in real life is an amazing opportunity.
I am proud to be a member of the blogging community. I am proud to have created an online space, and kept at it for over 10 years. I am proud of the other bloggers who pour out their hearts and souls online. The people who inspire me, educate me, make me laugh, and bring me to tears. Having the opportunity to get together with so many of them in one place was completely fabulous, and it’s something I hope to do again.
This year, I couldn’t make it happen. Between my family trip to Disneyland in March and the home renovations that are just getting underway my budget wouldn’t allow it. Instead of dancing at Sparklecorn, listening to amazing panel discussions, or enjoying three kid-free nights in a hotel, I found myself walking down a suburban sidewalk in search of tile. For this weekend, it’s where I belonged. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still belong to the blogging community, though. They are my people, whether I get to celebrate with them or just read their tweets and Facebook updates and be present with them in spirit.
Thinking about my friends getting together and having fun, I started to smile as I walked. For another fleeting instant, I caught a whiff of that beautiful and elusive scent of summer. In that moment, I knew that we were all just where we needed to be.