Thursday, June 30, 2011

Junior High Camp Redux

I am 50-hrmk years old. I lived happily in a foreign country for more than three years, and successfully co-parented four children into adulthood without misplacing any of them. I can (sort of) play the piano and (oh, yeah) tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue.

So why, yesterday morning, were my hands sweating when I stepped out of the elevator?

Because I am 12 years old and it was the first day of summer camp again.

I didn't know a soul at this conference, and my normally battened-down social anxiety was in full-on blast mode. Did I have the right clothes? Would anyone sit with me at lunch? Who were the popular kids and could I avoid them? Would I know the right rock stars and buzzwords so that I didn't look like a hick?

But then we set off for the first field trip of the day and a woman from New Jersey fell in step beside me. "Your first time at the conference?" she asked, and by the time we had waited at the stop light for the cautionary don't-even-think-of-walking hand to disappear (and branded ourselves as tourists while all the natives ignored us and the hand), I knew half a dozen things about this Easterner and her school.

Then we arrived, and whoa, I felt like a pilgrim arriving at Mecca. If you're not in the biz, you may not know that the Chronicle of Higher Education is the gold standard for college reporting. In my line of work, if you've gotten your school in the Chronicle, and it doesn't have a headline like "What's Up With Freshmen? Are They All This Stupid?," you're going to be trotting in to ask your boss for a raise.

As it turns out, the editors and reporters are people. HUMAN BEINGS. Who knew? And they were charming and friendly and I left with half a dozen story ideas swirling around in the part of my brain that says "Hey, I bet someone would like to read about this."

As the day went on I found that I know a lot more than I thought I did, and what do you know, everyone else does pretty much the same thing we do at my college, and hey, this is actually pretty fun.

I think I'll stay another day.

The editor of the Chronicle. A human being.

No comments:

Post a Comment