The Intimacy of the Conference

Dear Bloggers
Today I leave for Hawaii. I have prepared for the journey as best I can: a new pillow for my head, eye pads, earplugs, a lock for my suitcase. Even now an hour before I walk out the door, Bill is putting identification tags onto my suitcase and bags, so that I will hopefully recover them more easily should they go missing. It is as if my actual identity travels with these tags and I feel the anxiety, not only in me, but in others, my family, especially Bill that I may not return. The plane will fall from the sky, a tsunami in Hawaii will wash me out to sea, and I will disappear without trace, all except the tags on my suitcase, to alert others that I was once there, wherever my journey has taken me.

I will miss the Internet, the emails, my correspondence on line, but I have elected to travel without a computer, to give myself a break from my obsession, to immerse myself in the conference in the flesh and blood people I meet, some of whom I have met before, some of whom I will meet only briefly and then never see again. It is in the nature for these conferences to develop almost instant intimacies among some people and then to go home and the intimacy fades almost immediately. This saddens me, but it is understandable. Most have busy lives. After the sequestered space of a conference, three or four intense days of companionship and musing on deep issues of significance to us all, we return to our usual places, our day to day connections with the ‘real’ people in our lives and there’s no time left, or desire or whatever else it is that keeps these relationships alive. Unless of course we can keep a connection alive online. Ah, the brave new world of cyberspace. At least it’s new for me. I love it.

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