Someone said to me recently: “I want to go to LauraPalooza, but I would be by myself. Would it be weird if I just showed up alone?”
In other words, is traveling solo to LauraPalooza worth it?
I had been thinking about posting about my favorite part of LauraPalooza, and I hadn’t decided what to write about yet. But as I answered her, I knew. I know this will rhyme a bit with Sarah Sue’s answer, but there’s no other way to say it: the best part of LauraPalooza was the people. And the people started with the knowing.
The truth is, the emotional high started with the trip there. I don’t have much memory of my flight, but after landing in Minneapolis, I distinctly recall the organic co-op where I stopped for lunch (chicken curry sandwich!) and the salon where I partook of a mani-pedi all by myself (parents will get this). Then there are flashes of the ice cream social (moved indoors because it was in the high 90s, and humid), and then, next morning, that first-day-of-the-conference feel when you just see person after person’s expectant, smiling face, and you exchange knowing looks with each one of them because even if you’ve never seen them before in your life, you know. You’re all there for the same reason. You all know the significance of the phrase “brown poplin” and you all pronounce “Al-MAN-zo” the same way. You don’t say this, but you know it anyway.
It takes two to make a smile, and smiles by the pair were lighting up the ballroom. Fans were bonding over conversations in the lobby of the dorm, or after unexpected pairings at breakfast, in the hallway between sessions, or over the banquet tables for the sit-down meals.
I knew less than 10 people in person before embarking on my trip. This photo, of seven of us attendees at Pub 500 in Mankato on Friday night, is the best indicator of how that changed when I arrived.
Before LauraPalooza, I had met exactly one person in this photo, and it wasn’t even in a Laura context. Whether I was singing Ben Folds songs or sharing beer recommendations or talking about our respective careers or sharing parenting commisseration or laughing over the previous night’s karaoke (and oh yes, there will be karaoke), by the end of the conference, I was able to call all of these people friends.
Attendees who showed up solo, tell us how it was. Were you lonely? Did you feel strange? Did you feel as if you did not belong?