I went away for our annual industry conference in Baltimore a few weeks ago. If you’re a long time reader of my blog, you’ll know how I get when I travel alone. Even though I find myself among thousands of people in an interesting new city, the tendency to isolate comes pretty easily to me, staring down the social phobia and awkwardness that these types of events just simply are.
Driving into Baltimore freaked me out a bit. I have this recurring nightmare, like the dream where you are falling and you startle yourself awake, only in mine, I’m in a car, leaving a huge cement bridge over water, and plummeting into the water below. I get irrationally fearful of highway on ramps that go very high in the air and bridges over water, and didn’t realize I had to hit one of each on my way into the city. Unpleasant to say the least.
My time in Baltimore was no different than last year in Boston or DC the year before that. I get in my head, struggling with my depression, but working on writing and hitting the gym helps a bit. The saddest part though is being away from my family. As my son gets older, he’s much more aware about the time we spend away from him. My husband travels regularly overnight for work, often one night a week, sometimes more. I sometimes have late nights for work once a month, and do a late night yoga class once a week, but being gone for four days is really out of the norm for me.
My husband kept an eye on my son while I was gone, taking him on a grand adventure to the beach, where they could use the indoor pool and play in a new environment as a treat. He did amazingly well, and hearing how much fun they had made me miss them that much more.
Of course, I did find some things to do while I was there. I walked around the Inner Harbor area until sunset one night. I stumbled on a German market, which sold crafts and local goods and beer and food. I bought some wooden ornaments and a tree topper.
I headed back up the main drag to my hotel to find an increased police presence at every intersection. There were people demonstrating about the police brutality in Ferguson and New York, screaming “I can’t breathe!” into the night. You could hear them for blocks and blocks afterward.
I stumbled on to a tiny craft beer bar called Alewife, which was an amazing find beer-wise. I had a flight of three Jolly Pumpkin ales and a Saison DuPont (my go-to favorite beer) along with some amazing steamed clams and buffalo chicken bisque. My server was awesome, very attentive and knowledgeable about the beers. Although I had to walk past the strip club on my way back and saw some guy staggering to keep himself upright, I felt like it was an overall successful venture into the outside world.
The conference itself was awesome. I managed to go the whole thing without seeing my colleagues, bumping into my boss only once. The sessions were great, very informative and well planned. I did spot a gem in the convention’s bathroom stall, someone posted their phone number and “350+only.” I have tried not to think what kind of individual you’d have to be to sneak into the women’s bathroom at the Baltimore Convention center to post such a thing. And, were I a 350 lb woman, would I be so foolish as to call a number I saw posted in such a manner.
When I got home, I was surprised to learn that my husband had a new-found appreciation of the time I spend with my son when he’s overnight. And, I found a new respect for the emotional fortitude to be able to work away from home so often, as I was an emotional mess most of the time I was gone. And, although I’m still paying for the time away with my son, it was a mostly positive, eye opening experience for us all.