Somewhat surprisingly, I've been given the green light to attend the STC conference in Dallas later this month. So I've registered, booked a plane ticket, found what seems to be a nice hotel (which looks for all the world like a home decor shop in the Castro), and realized with something of a start that Nashville this isn't.
That is, Nashville with Eric and Erfert this isn't. Dallas with Eric and Erfert this isn't. Dallas with a few hundred technical communicators, sure, but no Eric and Erfert.
It's not a secret that our side excursions last year were a huge part of what made the conference so great. The sessions on XML and idea mapping and embedded assistance and the like were all well and good, but they were nothing next to strolling through downtown Lynchburg, closed and shuttered at 5 p.m., after our sample-less tour at Jack Daniels. They were nothing next to that still wordlessly blissful evening at the Bluebird. They were nothing next to our long, drink-filled, expense-accounted meals.
It seems odd to be nostalgic for a conference, but of course it's not so much the conference I wish I could relive (though I'll soon have the chance)--it's the time, the city, the company. It's the knowledge that at the end of the final session of the day, there's a long line of cocktails and decompression with my friends waiting. It's the ability to pass an entire evening with nary a technical communications-related word uttered. It's the reassurance of not, for at least a while, having to meet 'n' greet.
The Big D will be an adventure in its own right--I'll get to see the renovated Fort Worth museum, and can (and should) go see my aunt and uncle--but it won't be Nashville. For some reason, I can't help feeling a weird bit of sadness about that.