5500 people at this conference tells me that people want to be together again. The rooms are packed, the hallways are packed and the dining areas are packed. Masking has become a non-issue…some do some don’t, everyone does what makes them feel comfortable. In hallways where we’re packed like sardines or the room is crazy crowded I wear one. Other times, I keep it off.
I’m in the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel; it’s a sprawling space with fountains, a bar, sofas and tables. It’s jammed; its buzzing. The dolphins In the center fountain oversee it all, spitting water in all directions, the sound of the water drowned out by the din. Anyone walking in here now would never think Covid had been a thing, People are talking cheek to cheek with friends, new friends and strangers…laughing, talking strategy or pitching something. Then there’s the people like me; waiting on a colleague and looking for things to write about…always looking.
Four young women laughing, sitting on two couches drinking mimosas. There’s one guy making a pitch to the other…the guy on the receiving end has the look of a caged bear, looking around for a way out. Here’s some loud bro laughing complete with backslapping. Over there an older woman talks to a young man. You can tell they work together, her manner is that of a mentor and he is drinking it in. My eye is drawn to two young people, ostensibly talking business, but the guy is flexing about something. She is leaning forward, interested. They are both beautiful and you’d have to be blind to miss the mutual attraction.
Everyone is drinking. A drink gives us something to do with our hands and for some, that slight hit of alcohol, lowers their guard. Introverts become slightly extroverted and extroverts just throw a wider net. There are a lot of nets in the room.
Maybe no one sees it but me, and I maybe it’s my imagination, ascribing more meaning to normal human interactions. But then normal human interactions is the point. Despite our angst over remote work and the chance of catching the ‘vid we have a longing to be close, to look each other in the eye and share the same space. We communicate a lot in how we choose to share our space, like the young woman leaning in and the the guy looking for a way out.
Besides, have you been to a conference, a meeting, a class in the last year that didn’t have someone say “It’s good to be together again.”
© Glenn R Keller 2022, All Rights Reserved
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