I've Been Everywhere

You may already know this, but I've attended a lot of noder gatherings. I keep on going to them because I want to and because I can. In that regard, fortune has truly smiled upon me. It's mind-boggling, really. I've nearly lost count of them all, but then again, I wasn't really counting them to begin with... I try to count the people I've met instead. Because Everything2 is made of people. And let me tell you, we are a truly remarkable colony of human beings: writers, artists, cooks, geeks, poets, lovers, pranksters, pioneers and adventurers. Sometimes I believe that this place could be named Everyone instead of Everything... it might describe what E2 truly is just a bit better.

And I've said it many times before: I don't do aftermath writeups. And generally speaking, that's true. But a search of my nodeshare will prove that I have written a few of them, and dammit, this makes one more. But you know what? Fuck it. I have experienced a magnificent day that I will remember for decades — maybe even for the rest of my life. And it isn't just "daylog material." It means so much more than that. It applies directly to this place, came into being as a direct result of this place, and defines (in a sense) what many of us are all doing here (though we didn't know it would come to this when we started). And in spite of my personal policy against it and my professional Editorial abivalence about it, I am about to lighten up for a moment and tell you why.

The Gruesome Details

Surprise! There are (almost) no gruesome details, but the basics are thus: I flew to Boston, got picked up by donfreenut and Chihuahua Grub at Logan, went to cahla's house and got drunk, went to sleep later. Woke up the next morning, walked, rode the T, walked, gathered with noders at the Pru, walked, drank, went on a very fun and silly day-long scavenger hunt encompassing some of Boston's most historic landmarks, walked, drank some more, walked, had a very expensive dinner with some truly delightful people, walked, drank even more, etc. (Noder gatherings can be great exercise!) And when it was all said and done, I met another dozen or so amazing noders I had never met before. I woke up on Sunday to be delivered back to Logan by dann, and flew back home. "Blah, blah, blah." It will be documented in this node by the others, in various forms and from various points of view, including all the great stuff I missed out on because I had to leave early. And that's all very, very cool to read, but it's not my writing style. Because I just don't think I can do justice to the experience.

As I've said elsewhere, all the details (gruesome or not) can't really be adequately conveyed in writing. At least, not by me. I suppose I could write lengthy prose about how magnificently beautiful the weather was (surely no more perfect a Spring day in New England has ever graced this world); how because it was Earth Day, we got to ride the T for free; that the Boston Red Sox pitched a no-hitter that day in Fenway Park and that I was THERE to see the rejoicing fans on the street; how the very streets and parks and golden dome-topped architecture of Boston's historic buildings were breathtaking at every turn; how I was lucky enough to gaze out upon a living sea of noders larger than any I had ever seen before...

I could go on forever, because every passing moment was magical. It was all so beautiful and memorable; a waking dream, in every sense. It was far greater than my ability to convey it all in words. And that is what I want to tell you about. Because as amazing as this noder gathering was for me, it was in a different sense quite ordinary. In fact, it was a highly concentrated and actualized sample of what every noder gathering should be (and with few exceptions, has been). I've been to a lot of noder gatherings, folks. And let me tell you something: This one was perfect.

The Perfect Noder

While I was on vacation in California recently, somebody made a half-joking remark about how I was on a search for The Perfect Noder. Everybody in the room got a good laugh out of that, especially me. But it got me to thinking: Am I really searching for the "perfect" noder? Is there even such a person? What is it that compels me to attend as many of these noder gatherings as I can? I was looking directly at nate while I considered this, but he simply grinned back at me like the Cheshire Cat that he is. I think Ouroboros offered to make us all another drink at that point, and I quickly forgot my quandary.

And then, two weeks later, I found myself sitting at the bar next to The Custodian in a place called Whiskey's, about a dozen yards or so up the street from where the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon is located, and I had an epiphany. I have some of The Custodian's words of wisdom to thank for it happening, but the realization was thus: I know who The Perfect Noder is. And I was so dumbstruck that I could hardly speak. Of course, I was pretty tired too, and I hope Custy doesn't think I was rude by being so quiet for so long. Shortly thereafter, a lot of other noders found their way to that bar, and while I was transfixed by this new understanding, their interaction with each other served to prove my insight was true in a way that was incredibly beautiful.

You are the Everything

So what was it about this particular noder gathering that made all the pieces fall into place? Alas, there is no simple answer. Every moment is a colorful tile, forming a mosaic of brilliant, reflective memories that you can only give meaning to once there are enough of them in place. Here's a very short list of semi-life-altering items for you to consider (in no particular order):

  • The view of the Boston skyline on a clear night, from the window of a banking Boeing 757 that's 5000 feet up, is beautiful enough to remind you of how you felt when you first saw fireworks as a child
  • The sight of donfreenut's facial expression when I held up my Butterfinger McFlurry poster (which I made to signal him down at the Logan arrivals level) was cooler than a cup of Abe Vigoda's urine
  • The innumerable hugs and warm handshakes upon arriving at cahla's house made me feel like I was walking into an idyllic family reunion (idyllic in the sense that you actually love everyone there)
  • Seeing the camera-laden dmd with young WonkoTheSane as his shadow was one of the coolest things I've ever witnessed at a noder gathering
  • Stealing a kiss from Cow Of Doom in a moment of drunken spontaneity was serendipitous, and reciprocated in a way that I can replay in my mind as if it happened in slow motion
  • Realizing with great awe and admiration over lunch that Chiisuta is built like a brick house (and she knows it, baby)
  • Shaking jaubertmoniker's hand upon leaving Sunday with a return grip so firm and steady that it spoke volumes, even while we all stood in that hallway muttering awkward words of goodbye
  • Realizing in Boston Common that the lovely moxie, when she's smiling and laughing, reminds me a lot of Templeton
  • Gazing at karma debt looking at me through the reflection of a beer tap backboard, and knowing all at once what mutual admiration really means
  • Watching JayBonci and clampe stalk my team of scavenger hunters through the streets of Boston like the true predators they are (they will help you if they can, but they will kill you if they must)
  • Kissing brassmule on his nose as he lay on his back in Prudential Center, just at the very moment that he realized I was there
  • Hugging cahla outside the restaurant after dinner in a moment of mutual understanding about what hosting a noder gathering really entails
  • Sharing a special moment with several noders while tandex had no pants
  • Seeing the gleam of concentration in hemos' eyes as he counted and recounted a two-inch-high stack of cash, preparing to settle our tab for dinner
  • Having my smile returned to me from across the room by Void_Ptr, communicating the understanding that noders who've hosted gatherings have about how much we love them
  • Holding radlab0 in my arms while she spoke into my chest, "I'm so glad you're here."
  • Trying desperately not to pander to karmaflux's vulgar and hilarious "secret handshake" display, even while submitting to be the "butt" of his joke (as usual)
  • The hug dann gave me outside the departures gate at Logan is among the most deeply sincere displays of affection I have ever felt in my life (dann's hugs are usually like that — I highly recommend them)
And these colorful moments are just a small sample of the thousands I have experienced in my travels to find The Perfect Noder. It's been a long journey, filled with tears and laugher, serious conversation and juvenile fun, getting lost and being found, blisters and sunburns, hot tea and cold sushi, jet lag and sleeping bags, smoking and drinking and eating and talking, candid embarrassments and genuine affection. This is the journey we should be seeking in our lives: Finding the beauty that is humanity.

Life, the Universe, and Everything

If you take only one thing from this missive, let it be this. Everything2 isn't just a web site. It might look that way on the surface, but trust me when I tell you that it is much, much more. It is made up of real, live, breathing, feeling human beings. It's a community in the most literal sense of the word. We are a tribe, with common goals and customs, rights, privileges and interests, all living in the same virtual place under the same laws and regulations. And this is a realization that I've made several times before, as have many others. But something happened to me on April 27, 2002 that I will take with me on my continuing journey through the evolution of E2. Because I now know who The Perfect Noder is.

If you were at this gathering, it's you.

If you've ever attended any noder gathering, it's you.

If you've ever longed to attend a noder gathering but couldn't, it's you too.

Because The Perfect Noder is any noder who understands that this game we are all playing here isn't just a game. All the writing and reading and voting and messaging we do here is simply a beautiful and elaborate technical means to an end. And that end is making personal connections with other people — people who touch our lives and lay bare its meaning. It's why we write, and why we play, and why we travel to make communion with one another whenever we can.

It's love, basically. And you can't get much more perfect than that.