Reflecting back to my trip last week, I can’t help but feel elated. Minneapolis was just wonderful. I greatly enjoyed the time spent in the city as well as the time spent at the conference. I was able to try and enjoy a lot of new things in MN while exploring the downtown area. I also learned a lot from the panels that I attended. Saturday was our last full day and evening in MN, and quite frankly–I think it was also my favorite. My co-worker and I had our 8am panel sharing instruction ideas. We had people at our table every round, and I even got asked to apply to a community college nearby, so that was sweet! Then, after our panel I attended a Women’s Caucus panel that had a variety of research on women’s issues. After the morning panels I grabbed some lunch and headed back up to the hotel room to hang out and enjoy my food before heading to an afternoon panel where my undergraduate program was winning an award for outstanding Communication program. I met up with friend of mine who also attended that panel, and we hung out the rest of the afternoon. Her, another friend of ours, and I just hung out at the hotel laughing, catching up, and enjoying some drinks. Our discussions were both enlightening and hysterical! After a bit we decided to grab some appetizers and drinks at a nearby pub that we wanted to check out. Brit’s Pub just downtown and down the street from where we were staying. Later on we attended the “sock hop” for the conference which was really just a banquet hall with a good DJ and people dancing. We only stayed for a short bit, but the time we did spend there was a lot of fun. We danced our drunken booty’s off until we decided we had enough. After the “sock hop” we were suppose to join a bar crawl. However, the people we really wanted to see were just planning on hanging out at the bar lobby instead. So, we decided to skip the bar crawl and hang out with those we wanted to visit with.
I sat down with the Department Head (L) of my old program and we sat and caught up on how things were going in each others life’s. I shared with him some of my most recent artwork and the photography I have been doing as of late. We also talked about how the program was going and how much I missed being there. Our conversation took many twists and turns throughout the night as each drink brought with it another topic to discuss.
After a short while, my Masters chair (H) showed up and took a seat next to us. He joined in on our conversations and catch up. I also shared with him what has been going on in my life and what I’ve been up to, and he his. What emerged out of our conversations though was something that I will treasure and hold with me forever. In part of our conversation I reminded H of something he said to me when I was leaving a final during my Masters program. I told him that those words had stuck with me and how much I appreciated him saying them. It was something along the lines of, I know you will do something great. And I’ve hung on to those words over the past two years. They encourage me and move me forward on the days I doubt myself. From that comment spun another conversation that has really just left me feeling elated, empowered, and driven. As I continued to share with H all of the pots I have my hands in at the moment and what I am wanting to do in the near future, he kept validating those ideas and telling me that I am amazing, I can do anything I want, I am a rare individual in this world, I will do great things. And I can’t even tell you how taken a back I was, and also how grateful I am for such encouraging words. To feel from this man a genuine belief in me and all things I set my mind to… It was unreal. And it isn’t as if I haven’t heard these things before from parents or loved ones, but sometimes it means something entirely different from someone else. And from this man, it meant the world. People say kind things to us often, but sometimes it just feels like a response rather then a genuine belief.
These men/mentors have no idea how much I care and respect them. I am so grateful for their words. And while reflecting on their words this week, and just the relationship I have with them in general, I finally figured out why I am so very fond of these two individuals. Whenever we are around one another, I am completely and utterly myself. I feel no inhibitions of who I “should be” or who I am “suppose to be” around them. I am just me. And through our discussions Saturday evening I was every side of me I think I could be. I showed them my artistic side, my professional side, my inappropriate side, every side there is to me in one conversation. And all they said were words of encouragement and love. I would apologize from time to time about comments I made that may have crossed the line and they would just respond with, That’s why we love you Lauren. And quite honestly, there are very few people who I can really truly be myself around without feeling judgement or questioning from. And these two men, along with some dear friends of mine, make the cut. This moment, and this conversation that was had, is simply a treasure I will hold with me forever. I sincerely hope they will be able to see their kindness and mentor-ship manifest into something great.
And as the night ended and we said our goodbyes H kissed me on the cheek and told me he loved me-and I shared the sentiment back. There was noting inappropriate of uncomfortable about it. It was like the kiss L planted as he intoxicatedly greeted me their first night in. It wasn’t passionate or sexual, just honest enduring friendship and love for who and what each of us means to one another. A true appreciation and care for one another. Gratitude that fate has allowed our paths to cross.
And it was a truly perfect way to end a long week in Minneapolis.