I spent the last weekend in the Nevada desert meeting up with 60+ amazing bloggers of which I had met only one or two in person before (actually three come to think of it) for the ultimate unconference ‘Bloggers in Sin City” and, truth be told, I don’t even like Las Vegas all that much. That, however, didn’t stop me from going and I even might or might not have fallen in love with Vegas a little bit this time… because, you guys, AMAZING things happen in Vegas.
I learned that what happened in Vegas does definitely NOT always stay in Vegas, because I wouldn’t be sitting here sobbing at my desk a few days later if what happened in Vegas had actually stayed there. No, last weekend was REAL. People were real. I know this, because I came home with beautiful new friendships and ALL THE FEELINGS and I haven’t quite managed to get rid off them for the last few days and seeing my Twitter feed explode with “I miss you’s” and “Because VEGAS!” makes me think that if that is not real, then I don’t know what the fuck is.
When I signed up for BiSC, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had read raving reviews from this blogger meetup in the past and while definitely intrigued, I never thought that a) this would be for me (I am an INFJ, if that tells you anything) and b) that it really was all that people made it out to be. I mean, how could it be? 60+ bloggers (mostly girls, mind you) in the same place for 3-4 days, would most definitely end in drama.
Clearly, I was going to be taught one of the biggest lessons of my life.
I half-heartedly decided to go, because Katherine kept bugging me (thanks for that!) about it and because I thought to myself: oh what the heck, this is the last BiSC and if I don’t go, I might possibly never ever have the opportunity again to meet so many of my favorite bloggers in real life, and on top of that, it’s going to be a nice getaway with (mostly) girls (and also some very fantastic guys!), and really, what do I have to lose anyway?
Sometimes you just have to take the plunge.
I was a nervous wreck when I arrived in Vegas. I’m incredibly shy in new social situations and I was worried, mostly, if people would like me and feel that they were meeting the San that they had gotten to know online. We all censor ourselves to a certain extent, but if I have one goal for my blog than it is to try and paint the most genuine picture of myself as possible.
What surprised me – and at the same time didn’t surprise me at all – was the fact that when I walked into Serendipity3 on Thursday night (having missed registration and pre-mingling due to a delayed flight), all I saw were familiar faces. I mean, duh! Those were (many of) the people that I had been following and semi-stalking on the Internet for years! Faces that I had seen on my computer screen separately (and some even together) so many times that it felt a bit surreal having them all in front of me at once (talk about overwhelming – I think I used that word at least a dozen times).
I loved that people were, for the most part, matching the images that I had created of them in my head based on their blogs and/or our online interactions and honestly, I find that pretty amazing. There was an instant level of comfortableness with people that I had just met for the first time minutes ago.
THIS is what I love about blogging and what I want to tell people who think blogging is a waste of time and nothing tangible.
When I caught myself looking around the room several times that night, internally smiling, stealing hugs and touching arms and shoulders here and there, I thought to myself: ‘Those people are REAL. They’re all here and I am here and I can talk to them and laugh with them and hug and touch them (sorry, if that sounds creepy!) and we’re going to have the BEST TIME ever!”.
Also: thank you from the bottom of my heart, if you were someone who didn’t know me from the Internets before and you still came and introduced yourself. You made this a whole less awkward for me.
And then, over the next three days, something magical happened… we all bonded.
It started with the 8-second-hug at the Mixer. First conversations over delicious sweet and savory treats and cocktails. Staring-contests and Twitter handle ‘tattoos’. Smiles and exchanged glances. Followed by a room party and deep conversations about AMERICA and Canada (and a little bit of Germany), money, politics and social matters. (Yes, we basically touched on all the subjects you should usually avoid in conversation with strangers and guess what?! We did not hate each other after that, in fact, we liked each other more!)
Friday was the legendary pool day and everybody showed up in their supercute bathing suits and nobody gave a fuck about their insecurities, but we all just had a fantastic time, showered each other generously with compliments, danced and sun-bathed and chatted over food and free drinks. We all got fancy in the evening to indulge at the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood, marveled at the water fountain show in front of the Bellagio and then had tickets for Cirque du Soleil’s “O” which was amazing and terrifying at the same time (these performers are nuts! Amazing, but nuts!). We had drinks at the bar, and laughed and played table games and took late night photos in the Flamingo lobby.
Saturday was brunch at the Paradise Garden Buffet at Flamingo and shopping with some awesome ladies and spontaneous ugly fashion shows in the H&M fitting rooms with girls that I had just barely met and that were not afraid to be completely ridiculous with me. We had deep conversations over dinner at Le Village Buffet at Paris, then rushed back to the hotel to get ready for the night. Happy Hour with drinks, gushing over each others’ white outfits and taking a gazillion photos.
Then a procession over to PURE Nightclub at Caesar’s Palace, being mistaken for a huge wedding party (wait, did I sign something? Are we all married now?), jumping the line like real VIP’s and living it up during our “Wicked White Party” on the rooftop, yielding amazing views of the strip.
via © SpyOnVegas.com
When Sunday rolled around, people had gotten remarkably quiet. I wish I would have been brave enough like Nicole and so many others on Sunday morning to get up, stand in front of a bunch of strangers-turned-IRL-friends and bare my soul. I wanted you all to know how much that weekend meant to me, how much every single one of you means to me… but between the touching recounts and all the tears (others’ and my own) and quietly (← that’s an adverb, for the record. ;)) sobbing into my breakfast, I couldn’t. My hands were shaking and my heart was pumping so hard that I thought it was going to explode.
There were hugs and more tears at In’n’Out, telling glances while hanging out at the Flamingo for the afternoon, squeezing hands and yelling “I love you’s”, nachos and book discussions before heading to the airport with heavy hearts.
I was completely unprepared for the emotional hangover that happened at the end of this weekend. I mean, how in the world can you get so attached to so many strangers after only 4 days? Is there something in the Vegas water? Did some of the magic glitter end up in the buffet food?
No, it’s much simpler than that. Internet people are just awesome, open-hearted and generous people and they know how to make you feel like you’ve known them forever.
I know part of it must be the fact that we all know that making IRL friends after college is hard as it is (I’ve written about it) and even harder if you move to a new city (let alone, new country) and find yourself physically detached from your whole support system. Getting to know people over the Internet is easy, effortless and there is basically always someone online to talk to…. it would be perfect, if not for the fact that, oh right, they’re often not physically available to meet up with you on a random weeknight (for drinks and burgers) for some girl talk.
BUT they can be your best friends nonetheless and BiSC proved that you can go from online to offline relationship in virtually no time and probably faster than with any other human being on the planet. And nobody judges you when you whip out your phone mid-conversation to share a photo with the rest of the tribe or to find out who is still up and wants to grab pizza at 3:30 a.m. in the morning.
Although I didn’t get to talk to everyone as much as I would have liked to (I love to email – come at me!), it was great that I could pick out a familiar face in the crowd and have a random heart-to-heart with a fellow BiSC-uit pretty much any time of the day.
I truly wish there was another BiSC next year. I think if I had known how easy it would be, I would have come to Vegas sooner.
So after all this, maybe a little bit of what happens in Vegas DOES stay in Vegas… because there is no way to put all the magic into words and do justice to what it was really like to be there and spend time with some of the most amazing people I ever had the pleasure to meet. It was fucking amazing and I wanted to put every single one of you guys in my pocket and take you all home. Oh wait, you all are kind of in my pocket… you’re only 5 minutes away on the Internets.
Nicole, Doniree and Jamie – thank you for making this magic happen. You have brought together a wonderful, unique group of amazing and inspiring people and I am so happy that this year I was able to be a part of it. You pushed me out of my comfort zone, only to realize that this could actually be my comfort zone, if I want it to be.
I am not going to lie, there were moments over the course of those 3-4 days when I felt a bit out of place, thought that nobody was as excited to see/meet me as I was to see/meet them. I sometimes hung back a bit (in my room or elsewhere quietly in the corner) to take a deep breath and then pep talk myself into showing up for the next event on our (outstanding!) agenda. But I
hope know that this was probably mostly in my head. I am not the loud, extroverted kind, so being around people all the time is exhausting for me (the good kind though!) and I often fade into the background and let others do the talking. Insecurities, I has it.
But still, I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that I had one of the actual-fucking-best weekends in a really long time. You don’t even know. Now excuse me while I go sort through my feelings and count my blessings to know such a wonderful group of friends. This is not the end. We’re going to see more of each other. THIS, I know.
Because VEGAS! <3
P.S. I usually don’t swear in public, but this was fucking necessary.