So much happened at ALA that I am so exhausted – not just from the amount of time I spent on my feet versus spent sleeping, which was skewed in the wrong way, but also exhausted from the amount of gratitude I feel after a weekend filled with really good people who treated me really well and who are really supportive at a time when I need that.
But I really hate being gross and saccharine, so suffice to say thank you, I am not worthy, you are all amazing, and moving on.
I met lots of people I have known only on the internet, and I’m glad to know that actually they are just as excellent offline, so we hung out a lot. I’m usually pretty good at going to sessions at conferences, but this time I pretty much only went to my own or ones I was helping with, and otherwise I made really, really valuable and rewarding connections with human beings on the exhibit floor, at the hotels, and roaming the halls. I don’t know how I made it through four days without having a hotel room to escape to when the social overload anxiety hit, but it was a whirlwind and I did it and it was worth it.
Possibly the most amazing thing was just this small moment when I realized, after being at late night dinner with some new friends and having a fantastic time, that there was something special about what we were doing. We had been having your usual conversation about this and that and nothing in particular, and because of our interests in books and diversity and stuff, also microaggressions and actual aggressions. And I looked around and realized that every single person at the table was a person of color. Out of I think seven of us.
I cannot recall the last time I was in a group of people that were all PoC.
I pointed that out and I swear I felt the whole table breathe for a moment as we all appreciated and lavished in that.
Now, I love my white allies to the point that I even keep a tongue-in-cheek-but-also-serious list titled something like Best Cis-Het White Men Who Get It. My white friends are just great. That’s why they’re my friends.
I don’t have the most diverse community around me in my physical life, and that moment was so special, because it explained why we were all so comfortable, so at ease, so able to discuss the things we valued and were passionate about and activists for…because we were all in an actual safe space.
I didn’t realize how much I don’t feel totally safe in other spaces, even when I’m totally safe for most purposes. I didn’t realize how it can feel to be, even for an hour, only with people who share that with you. AND on top of that share your general interests and sense of humor. We weren’t all biracial, adopted Jews with Chicano parents. We are not all the same. But we were all people of color.
That was an amazing moment.