My trip to the humor writer's conference was not at all funny. At least, it wasn't funny when it started. When I flew from Syracuse to Dayton for the Erma Bombeck Writer's Conference on Thursday, my son was home with a diagnosed case of the flu and a 103 degree fever. I knew he was in good hands with his father and two sets of grandparents, but still, I was worried and anxious. Nothing was funny; especially not the CNN anchors who spent a solid hour dissecting the missing Malaysian airlines flight. I could swear my heart was pinging.
Two turbulent plane rides later, I was riding a roller coaster of emotions as I stepped into the cocktail hour for attendees. After being in the room for less than five minutes, I was pulled aside by two women who said I looked nice and they appreciated the fact that I was wearing jeans, not the cocktail dresses and heels worn by many of the other attendees. Bonding over our casual wear, much of my anxiety immediately melted away.
During my three days in Ohio, I learned how to craft a Tweet, how to publish a book, and how to walk into a room full of strangers and not worry. I enjoyed an impromptu concert by one of the participants in the National Drum Line Semi Final Competition. I learned how to sign up for Farmers Only, the Match.com for clodhoppers. (Not that I called that 1-800 number; I had a fine husband waiting for me back home in Christian Mingle country.)
Most importantly, during my time away, I got some perspective, and that was the most valuable takeaway. My son healed without me. I realized that I am capable of publishing a book. Not just any book: my story, my voice. I was reminded that the world is much, much bigger than my little town and that my world there should be larger.
It turns out the conference really was funny and I did do a lot of laughing. My favorite Erma Bombeck quote from the weekend was from a piece about regrets. She said, "I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day."
I wasn't here for three days and the earth kept spinning, the children kept smiling, and I kept growing.