I wasn't supposed to go to this.

Scratch that. I was, actually. Originally, anyway. I remember bugging panamaus about hosting a nodermeet down in Florida a long time ago and was surprised to hear that he was actually going to go through with it. My first reaction to the news was something along the lines of "Oh my God, I am SO there!" But money being money and school robbing me of the opportunity to get a proper job to amass the riches necessary for such a jaunt, I figured, "oh shit, I can't go." That was that. I was pretty much set on the idea. I mean, I had a whole three weeks off between semesters and I figured that time would be better spent looking for money-generating work, seeing as the previous semester spent studying gave me so little time to do so. I was really strapped for cash, surviving on my last $200 or so. I even had to come down my high horse of pride and call my sister back home to russle me up some funds, if possible. It made sense to divert my energies into money-making ventures like jobsearch, right?

But what happened? The Lord of The Rings happened. Or better yet, cahla happened. We (drunkenmonkey, cahla, cowofdoom and the custodian) had planned on seeing LOTR and, beforehand, we decided to congregate at a bar, Dick's Last Resort. Me and cahla, for some odd reason, decided to embark on a journey to the mythic land of inebriation before the screening. Two shots of tequila and a guinness later, she turns and asks me if I'm going to Florida with her and the monkey. I tell her no, that I really want to but can't afford it. It kept on going back and forth for a while with her saying "c'mon, it'll be fun" and me saying "sorry, I can't". Then at one point she says, with much authority, mind you, that I am, in fact, going.

She was going to cover my expenses.

I didn't know what to say and for a second said nothing. Soon, enough, however, I conceded defeat and said, "Okay, fine. I'll go."

I blame the tequila for the crumbling of my otherwise iron will. No, really.

The sad thing about meeting noders is that, well, we're everywhere. I mean, come on, the convoy itself had license plates from various parts of the country alone: Florida, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio and then some. Hell, the accents revealed the far reach of E2 geographically not to mention its pull to one central location for us to gather at. It takes some doing for us to get together in such large numbers as we did this time. And ya know what? It was wonderful. It was great. It was amazing.

And it really sucked.

I mean, like I had written earlier, the sad thing about noders is that we're everywhere. Unfortunately, that means that we're everywhere other than in each other's backyards. I met some great people at that gathering that live hundreds of miles away from me. Hundreds. Fuckin' different area codes and different time zones and all that. And it sucks. So, what am I doing now? I'm adding to this aftermath writeup because I fuckin' miss them.

Yah, you read that right. I miss them.

It's funny, really. Not 'funny-ha-ha', boys and girls... more like 'funny-wistful-sigh'. I didn't think I could get sad over having met several handfuls of strangers and then coming home. Hell, I didn't even think I could be able to pair up E2 usernames with the real life names of these aforementioned strangers. But then again, I also didn't think I could let my life be touched by these self-same strangers.

And it has.

I wish I could just show up in Illinois and call up mordel to just shoot the shit with him over a beer and smile and listen to him talk entirely too loudly when he's had far too much to drink...

  I wish i could pop on by to Tennessee and get an affectionate and repeated elbow in the side from Bitca while laughing really, really hard while doing thoroughly inspired Invader Zim impressions...

    I wish I could pass by some tractor pull in Iowa on my way to Indra363's place to talk about boys and what moving to the other side of the country would entail and what the good kind of heartache feels like...

      I wish I could have the chance to go over to kick ccunning's oh so fragile ass in an Iron Chef competition in his own kitchen in Ohio ('cause, man oh man, he is so going down)...

So, all that really clings to my heart right now with respect to E2 are three things: the good memories that were created and enjoyed by all this one gathering, the selfish hope of possibly crossing paths with these wonderful individuals again in the future and the honest-to-goodness sincere belief that everything really is a community. I'm still amazed that something that is nothing more than flashing pixels on a monitor can bring together people from all over the country to involve themselves with each other in some meaningful and memorable way.

Hey, ya wanna play a game? You touch my life, I'll touch yers..?

Well, yah, it makes me sad. If I met you at this gathering and for some reason I seem contemplative or pensive or quiet, don't you worry none. There's nothing wrong. Well, not really. I probably just miss you is all.

I'm so glad I went.

Thank you so much, cahla.