(And now it's time for some rambling thoughts)
Prior to this year, every January for 12 years I have spent a week of my life away from work and the family and traveled to this place. And in that time spent there, I learned a great many things. I also met a great many people. Many of which I consider good friends. These are people from all over the world that normally I would never have met otherwise. We all come from different backgrounds and and have differences that possibly may have never led us to meet one another. But here, we all came together, learned, laughed, argued, sang and stayed up too late only to get up early the next morning and do it all over again. All for a specific brand of software and its related products. Yes, a piece of computer software brought us together under a common banner, but there was much more to it. A community sprung up that has always amazed me. We were social before social was cool. We constantly share information with each other, are always there to have each others back when needed. It's truly an incredibly unique thing in the software industry. I often talk to others at work about it and they just don't seem to get it. That's fine. I think people just have a hard time thinking that something like this just exist. But it does.
This year, it was pretty much written in stone that I wasn't going to be able to attend. But that didn't stop Mat Newman from coming up with a plan to get me there. At least to visit. He executed the plan, members of the community backed that plan and I went. I'm still amazed at the generosity and awesomeness of everyone involved. So with little warning I was off for my 13th January trip to Orlando. But this time, I didn't attend the conference as an attendee, I was there to visit and to take pictures. I was there for my business, not the "day job". It was an odd experience to just be there while everything was going on. I still found my way into a few things however. It was odd being there, being part of it, but still not a part of it. Walking around following the same paths that I've followed in the years before, but not being able to get into things. It was liberating in a sense. While I was there to work for my own business, I didn't have to worry about "the day job" business. So, I got to sit, talk and fully enjoy the time I had with these people. Sure, "day job" related topics came up and were discussed, but it was relaxed and not "I have to do this for my overlords!"
I will always cherish this trip over all the others before for these reasons.
- Having a message on my phone when I got off the plane from Devin making sure I had a place to stay.
- Rooming with a handsy Australian.
- Taking pictures of many people.
- Sitting and just talking with people, (Carl, Andrew, Alan, John, Kathy, many others)
- Being "stuck" and extra day thanks to the blizzard.
- Singing with Ray.
- Meeting Steve McDonagh
- Many, many other moments.
The future of a conference held in January in Orlando is uncertain. My future still holds many changes as well with my role at work. But again, I'm okay with it. Change is good, needed and unavoidable.
So if this was my last trip along the yellow fantastic, I won't cry because it's over. I'm going to smile because for 13 years straight, it happened.Thank you
, again, to all those involved
, (pictured or not), that had a hand in getting me to Orlando.