On the Sunday of SXSW I woke up bewildered, but in a happy way. I couldn’t believe the previous day. There was always, always sadness in me but Saturday had been so happy, all that sadness was pulled down below the surface. The good day tied anchor after anchor to the sadness, sinking it further and further down.
I got up early, headed out to several sessions and felt productive. It was still difficult to learn how to navigate SXSW as a newbie, but I was doing it. Slowly but surely. Then I got a text. “I’m changing Facebook today.”
Half an hour later I looked at Facebook and I was “In a Relationship” with no one. An anchor snapped and the sadness raised. I took a deep breath and changed my status back to single for the first time in 2 1/2 years. Another anchor snapped and the sadness raised. In the afternoon I took a break to pedi-cab it over to a favorite Austin eatery, 24 Diner. I sat at the only available seat, at the bar, and talked with a couple who were 24 Diner regulars. We chatted and ate and drank and exchanged blog URLs. The cute bartender poured me extra champagne. The hash was great, a second pedi-cab wheeled me back to the convention center. The sadness hovered, but still below the surface.
I scurried to a cool session I’d been hoping to catch “Using Emerging Technologies to Reach Your Audience”. This was an encore presentation (rare at SXSW) I’d missed a couple of days before. I was late, but the ballroom was only half full and I easily found a seat. I flipped open my iPad to take notes. Of course I checked Facebook. It had not published my relationship status change, which I was hoping it would so that *I* wouldn’t have to tell the world myself. Proof I don’t know as much as I think I know. Snap goes another anchor. Then I noticed I’d been blocked. Snap goes all the anchors and I sat in the big ballroom with the really cool presentation for 30 minutes before I realized I hadn’t heard a single word. Nothing.
Frustrated with myself, I snapped my iPad shut, hoped I hadn’t shattered the screen and headed to the hall to hopefully not cry. I didn’t. That was the worst day.
Monday was better. Did the conference then went to the Buffalo Lounge that night with all my Oklahomies. Drank up all of everyone’s drink tickets then sang karaoke with a two friends and a live band. Then as we stumbled back to the shuttle, I may have stopped off to ride a mechanical bull. Maybe.
Tuesday was better. Wednesday was EPIC. Thursday I flew home.
Let’s talk about the epic Wednesday and save the Thursday for the next installment. Wednesday I heard a keynote from Jonah Peretti, the founder of Buzzfeed that left me completely enthralled for my profession. We sat close and because we didn’t have to leave for the following keynote, we saw Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal up close and personal.
Later that night I departed my group and flew solo to a party I’d been anticipating for several weeks. Paste Magazine, Sennheiser and the Newport Folk Festival were hosting a showcase at the Blackheart and I was on the list. It was one of the only things I’d RSVPed to before my world was upended.
That show was perfect. It was heart. It was soul. It was banjo(y) church. It fed and fed and fed me. I even got to meet some of the Newport Folk Festival organizers and social media team. Nice folks. Saw some amazing music I’m going to post about soon. It was a high note of my week, second only to that amazing Saturday.
After I’d had enough, I walked back to the convention center to catch a shuttle. But not before stopping at the collection of food trucks called South Bites.
As I departed for Austin a week before, one of my friends told me to just keep swimming. Another told me to watch for signs. I did that. All week, I did that. On the way to the hotel that night I met a really nice guy in the shuttle. I lost his card, so all I remember is that his name is Michael and he works for Microsoft. He described a cool job when I asked about it but what struck me most was that he asked me about my day and thoughtfully engaged and listened to me about it. I realized in that moment that it had been a long, long time since that had happened at the end of any of my days. It was the first “Hey, Sheri….you know there’s better things waiting for you….” sign I’d had and it was a nice little comfort. Not an anchor to hold down the sadness, but a removal of an ounce of it.
Michael has a neat job where he teaches Microsoft technology to the entertainment industry. He lives in Marin County, north of San Francisco. And when he travels, as it turns out, he keeps an art journal of his experiences. Collages, mosaics and sketches fill pages of hand-made style paper in a soft leather bound journal. I snuck a photo because I figured no one would believe me.