Firstlet me just say that that is seriously the most terrifyingly massive hotel property I have ever been in that didn’t have slot machines lining the halls. There’s one entrance that I knew ofand several pavilions to walk through whenever you had to get from your room to the conference to lunch to your room to drop stuff off and back to the conference. Several of these pavilions were rain forestssome were carnivalssome were massive band shellsand I am pretty sure they each had their own ecosystemcomplete with different dialects spoken by the people who sold sequinwear in shops spread throughout the place. I actually bought a pair of jeans while I was there. I’d played a game with myself: if I found something in my size that wasn’t downright unwearable AND didn’t have a single sequin or crystal on itI would buy it and wear it RIGHT THEN. Badabing.
My favorite part had to be arriving at midnight and not knowing how to check in. I was sharing with a roommate who had arrived before me and would leave after I left. So when I announced myself as Melinda RobertsI got a few taps on the keyboard and then a blank stare.
“Umtry under ‘Mindy Roberts?’”
TypityTypityTypity. “No Ma’am.”
“OhGod this is so embarrassing. I don’t remember my roommates name. I could give you her twitter namethough.”
“MooshinIndy ring a bell?”
“Well. I’m speaking at the Blissdom Conference heredoes that help? LookI’m sorryit’s late and I don’t have the namebut we can call Cassie Boom who organized this and see if she can…”
She had walked off to look something up in the back roomor maybe to get a beer and a chair. I could be telling this story for a while.
When she came backI was ready to say“I’ll room with whoever else is with the conference. I only need to sleep a few hours and then I’m leaving for the airport in the afternoon. Lookhas anyone called down for a girl? Heh. Kidding. But has anyone?”
“I’ve got you right hereunder Mindy.”
“Ahyesthat’s meI didn’t mean to confuse things with a last name.” WHATEVER.
You’d think that would solve thingsbut no. It didn’t. She handed me a map of the premises that looked just like an amusement park map. Each parcel of acreage was a different bright colorwith landmarkselevators and regional embassies marked in pale brown type. I has having a seizure just looking at it.
“You’re going to want to walk right through those doors.” I looked up and wondered it there was an inscription along the lines of abandoning hope. “Then you’ll want to stay to your leftnot the middleyour leftand right here are some elevators.” I couldn’t tell if they were a halfway point or the ones I was to use but I didn’t want to overthink this.
“Thank you so muchI can’t wait to get there. Nowis there anywhere you’d recommend to get a bite and a drink? No? Everything is closed? EVERYTHING? AREN’T WE AT THE OPRYLAND HOTEL? Ohyour room service is good. Okay.” Good grief.
PeopleI am not making this up. I was so stunned by the first biodome that I stood there clicking poorly-lit photos with my camerapartially so I could digest it laterand partially in case I needed to show it to a guide on my way home. Along the way I passed several open-air bars and restaurant gazebos that were closed—CLOSED—and soon found myself next to a bank of elevators. From there it was 2.3 KM due east to my room.
I got in and punched the fourth floor. When the doors openedall I saw were rooms. Nothing that looked like a hall that stretched 2.3 KM. So I hit Lobby and went back down. Where there was sort of a dead end. So I hit four again and looked both ways. Huh. I went ALL THE WAY DOWN and ALL THE WAY BACK AGAIN before deciding to forage for a trail. As it happenedthere was a hall that stretched waaaaay beyond 2.3 KMand my room was about 1.5 KM past the first bend. By that time I was dropping my bagstearing at my shirt and calling “CAAASSSEYYYY!” like a demented Marlon Brando. Ohdid I mention I tried to get into someone else’s room on the wrong wing? I did. I tried the card key eight or nine times before realizing that I was in The C wingnot the G wing. Sorrydude. You can go back to sleep now.
Imagine my despair when I collapsed on the bed and realized my roomie was NOT THERE. Auuugggh. CaseyCaseyI found out your namehacked my way through the forests and trudged the carpeted plains to find you and you weren’t there. Waaaaahh.
An hour latershe was back and my room service dinner - a Caesar salad and wineat $65and a steal at that - was there tooso we talked and giggled and had pillow fights until past three a.m. At least that’s what I told my boyfriend who was a little inconvenienced that I’d taken so long to check in. Ahhhgive him a little something to think about. He likes redheadsand she thought it was funny. I love funny Mormons. Though she did get me good when I dressed in my red suit and skirt and she said“Heyyou look like you’re headed to the Tea Party Convention!”
I did wear the suit for the morningbut the Tea party was literally next door to Blissdom and the TV cameras and people’s heads kept swiveling my way whenever I tottered by in my Mrs. Wiggins heels and tight skirt. I chose poorly. Hencethe gamble that I would find something that would allow me to blend before my afternoon session.
Thank you to everyone who made me feel so welcome (and Heather Sokol! We met after six years at last!) and to the organizers. It was a truly spectacular conference. And I don’t meant that it was dazzlingI mean that everyone was friendlyand openand there was a complete lack of elitism and competition wherever I turned. Everyone was friendly and wanted to talk and listed. No one would let me sit alone. The Cover Girl folks grabbed their chairs and scooted way over to make another space for me at their table rather then let me eat at an empty table. I was amazed.
It was exactly what our conferences used to beand ought to be. It was Bliss. I loved meeting all of you.
Ohand in case you were wondering why I’m bummed outthis was on my lawn this morning.