Early Sunday morning I boarded a United Airlines flight and headed home from the Minneapolis airport following the NACA Northern Plains Conference. As I balled my jacket up and shoved it next to my head with the futile intention of trying to sleep I realized that another NACA Conference season had come to a close. As happens every year this created mixed emotions in my tired brain.
I started thinking about the things I will miss:
- Meeting students – some of whom I have e-mailed back and forth or spoke to.
- Connecting with long time friends that I only see a few times a year.
- Seeing pictures of people’s trips, pets, kids, significant others, and vacations.
- Sharing laughs and stories with my associate colleagues.
- Finding new places to eat…and bowl.
- Having Bonnie come into my booth frazzled as she tries to re-claim pieces of her booth that I may or may not have stolen.
- The Staff Associate Reception at each conference and the ever-present cheese and veggie tray.
- Watching Michael Miller “holding court”.
- Great dinners with friends and co-workers.
- Giving and attending Educational Sessions.
- Watching Block Booking really work.
- Seeing the children of other associates and professional staff members grow up right before your eyes.
- Helping new associates navigate the waters of NACA.
- Watching a student’s eyes light up as they watch one of our artists create their Airbrush Winter Hat or Trucker Hat.
- Being in an Ed Session when a student has an AH-HA moment.
- Talking to the members of the NACA office who I respect for their professionalism and appreciate for their friendship.
- Watching a person who is billed as a mind reader try and go into the storage closet thinking it is the restroom despite a sign 5 feet in front of them at the entrance to the actual restaurant.
- Having dinner with a delegation and really getting to know them a little better.
- Getting to spend time with Michael Miller where we actually can have a conversation that is long and uninterrupted.
- Seeing some new places.
- The friendship shown to me by schools and volunteers in ALL of the regions that we attend.
- Regional volunteers embracing their themes including dressing up.
- My first year as an attendee at West – you guys rock!
- Hearing stories about the Beauty Pageant world.
- Of course I will miss booking dates!
On the flip side, there are a few things I will not miss:
- NACA Chicken Dinners.
- Early morning flights.
- Cheese and veggie trays.
- Inattentive students.
- Marketplaces devoid of energy.
- People that can’t or choose not to follow the rules.
- Agents that jump into the middle of the aisle and get into the faces of students and staff.
- Being away from family, friends and my dogs.
- Loading in and loading out of the exhibit hall.
- Bad or no Wi-Fi in the exhibit hall.
- Slow elevators.
As you can see by the difference in the size of the list there is far more that I will miss. Much of what I won’t miss is pretty petty. In a few short months I will be gearing up for the next conference season and I will be excited about that, I hope you are, too.