I remember that week. I was in college. It was the summer before my last year. My advisor had been so pleased with my research that he registered me for one of the year’s most well attended conferences. I was so excited I practically skipped onto the bus. It was a five hour journey to the mountain resort town where the conference was being held. A hotel room all to myself, three delicious meals a day, and potential new friends from all across the country. I remember looking from the tinted glass window next to my seat out onto the two-lane road winding through the hills. The bus was the last of four that had been specially reserved for conference participants. Most of the attendees had taken the previous buses, which is why this one was only half full and the seat next to me empty.
When it was time to disembark, I reached up to the overhead rack and retrieved my large backpack. The adventure was about to begin. The bus parked in front of a small hotel that was built in the shape of a chalet, only much larger. It fit perfectly into the mountainous landscape. Filled with awe I walked toward the large double doors leading into the hotel lobby. I checked in, hurried to my room to deposit my backpack and throw some water on my face to freshen up, and then practically ran down to one of the conference rooms. The first session was about to begin in two minutes.
Cushioned chairs were arranged in neat rows that extended from one side of the large room to the other. Every seat was taken except for one or two somewhere in the middle of the second row in the front. I certainly didn’t want to make myself conspicuous by inconveniencing a number of people, while I attempted to climb over them to get to a seat. So I found an empty space along the wall at the back of the room and stood there, pen and notebook in hand. Within seconds the session began. And a few minutes later, one of the doors to the room swung open. A tall man with boyish features and a blond ponytail strolled into the room. After scanning the rows of filled chairs, he too made his way to the back of the room.
“Good idea,” he whispered to me, as he leaned with his back against the wall a few feet away from me.
I smiled and turned my attention back to the speaker. An hour later, as the room began to empty, the ponytailed man walked over to me.
“Hi,” he extended his right hand, “I’m Dave. That was a great opening session, wasn’t it?”
He was awkward and lanky, but he had a certain charm about him. So I took his hand and introduced myself.