next time around

I didn’t take nearly as many pictures at PodCon as I should’ve: the weekend was wrapped up in a whirlwind, trying to take in as much as humanly possible in such a limited amount of time. Panels that I walked away from with valuable insight and inspiration (there was a story panel that particularly struck me and left me furiously jotting down notes and ideas), live shows that made me smile and laugh until my face hurt (I have no pictures from the Magic Tavern show and I deeply regret that!!!), even just sitting for a brief moment in the convention hall to take a breather all felt capital-I Important, somehow. I weirdly wasn’t sure that this weekend was going to happen, for a myriad of reasons (though mainly my own anxieties.) I never would’ve expected it to turn into what it did.

Considering that I walked into PodCon with a horrible pang in my chest that I shouldn’t be in the room, a voice I couldn’t tamp down on my own no matter what, I’m so, so grateful for the people I spent this surreal weekend with, for this community that reminds me of why I want to create, that is a comfort and a home when I’m lost, and the magic of it all. And on top of it all, after the shows had ended and the hall was cleared out, I was (and I’m using this unironically, I promise) absolutely blessed to spend time with people who I deeply admire for…just being incredibly kind and genuine people, honestly.

I could probably word this more poetically, but I’m tired, and I’m still not 100% sure what day it is, and I was already iffy on that in Seattle, let alone looping in another round of travel, so I’m just gonna do my best: I am constantly struck by how lucky I am to have gotten to know people through this weird audio medium in which we can create stories, spread knowledge, elevate voices, and sometimes just be silly for the sake of the joy of it. That those people hold the door open to the room, actively invite you in even when you feel like you shouldn’t be there, walk in with you even when they’re worried too. I wish I had better words to quantify the gratitude I have for that kindness. It wants me to be a better person, to make sure that I take the opportunity to make the room bigger, make others feel welcome, whenever I can. I’ve made life-long friends, I’ve grown so much personally and artistically (which are intrinsically linked!) from being involved in podcasts, in both a community and creator aspect that there’s no way to properly quantify it. (That’s weird to type but! I do make a podcast! I gotta get over how weird that feels because dang it, I am a podcaster!)

It was so incredibly hard to leave PodCon. Even when “goodbye”s are “see you soon”s, there was an ache in my chest at leaving the physical space where this community had collected for one electric moment. I’m trying my best not to run over conversations again and again, trying not to go down the tunnel of overthinking everything, and instead bask for as long as I can in the bewildered gratitude that has enveloped everything lately. (Though maybe I made a tactical error in relistening to all of the “Listen To This Podcast When…” feed while trying to make my connection in O’Hare, but I’m sure I’m not the first or the last person who will be crying with headphones in while trying to find her flight gate in a different concourse and you finally get there and it CHANGES and your connection boards in TEN MINUTES.)

The best I can hope for, that we all can hope for, is to take the good of the weekend, carry it with us, enrich the moments to come with it. And sure, I likely made a goof of myself. There are tiny pangs of worry that I said the wrong thing at the wrong time, or a weird thing at the wrong time (or a weird thing at a good time?) but maybe that’s…just normal. And ok.

(Granted, I do vaguely recall loudly yelling about the Fresno Nightcrawler in the hotel bar on Friday night? Sure. Thanks past me, for that decision.)

(He’s just legs, ok, it’s friggin’ weird.)

But maybe that–and everything else–is a story; for myself, for someone else. And, to paraphrase some wisdom received (that I’ve transcribed and will probably base a big ol’ comic around, because that’s just what I do), maybe that’s the most fitting thing to walk away from PodCon with.

To those who were at PodCon 2: I can’t wait for all of our paths to cross again. I hope we’ll all have new stories to tell each other (maybe with a little tasteful namedropping, who knows.)

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