I’m sitting on the plane right now, exhausted, con los pies que me están matando – we definitely don’t have that many stairs in Houston – pensando, en tantas cosas tan hermosas that happened to me the last few days. I’m afraid that I’ll blink and it will all have been a dream… or that somehow I won’t remember it all. Me quiero dar el pellizco yo mismo. Then again, I’m not that brave.
This week I attended the Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) National Conference in Chicago – if you don’t know who they are look them up, it’s an amazing network for both Latinos and non Latinos – and while having been invited to attend in it of itself was pretty damn extraordinary, I don’t think I’d fully grasped the significance of what this trip would mean to me. As soon as I walked in the door at the Intercontinental Hotel, near the gorgeous Navy Pier where everything took place, mind you well after 11 p.m., I was met with abrazos and cariñitos: ¡Juan! ¡Juanito! ¡Juan of Words! The cínico in me wanted to believe that these were just standard formalities, people just being nice, but then something weird happened… it kept happening, everywhere I went. Even more amazing – uuyy hasta se me enchina la piel – más gente linda approached me to tell me why they enjoyed this blog, and how much they identified with me. All I could do was offer hugs because there really aren’t any words to express the gratitude in my heart for this kindness. Para serles sincero I still don’t believe it!
I mean this is me. The kid with little dreams, with little expectations out of life besides graduating from high school, the one out of seven chiquillos that my parents raised a duras penas, the one who didn’t even believe in his own passion for writing not too long ago, the one who still can’t even believe how much love he’s been blessed with through this medio. No se si me lo merezca, but I sure as hell am grateful!
To top it all off, on the night before my departure a couple of us decided to drink a glass of wine before calling it a night, and low and behold who did we end up sharing a table with? Dolores Huerta! Yes, that Dolores Huerta, the living legend. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful three day event. Not only was she truly graceful, but what she had to say to us felt like it was truly delivered to our ears by divine intervention. The journalist in me wanted to take notes, but we were all so mesmerized that all I could do was listen and try to record everything she said to us in my mind. All in all, what she wanted us to know was that we are all just as capable of making a difference, of utilizing our voice for a greater good, and of motivating others to do the same. That is definitely a tall order, but one I wanted to share with all of you as well. Don’t take it from me. Take it from her, una mujer verdadera that has made her mission in life to serve others. What an inspiration!
So in closing this very random post, I want to thank you all once again for reading this humble little blog and for making me feel extra special in Chicago, and also by encouraging you to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. You never know what might happen if you just try.
This is just beautiful, Juan!
I was one of those who shouted to you from across the hallway as soon as I spotted you! I just had to give you that abrazo.
This is why I am a conference junkie. There´s nothing like validating those cyber friendships in real life and knowing that our connections are real.
How amazing that you got to spend more time with Dolores Huerta. Well deserved.
Juan, fue un placer concerte. Wishing there had been more time to sit and talk. Wanted you to know that you did a great job moderating the SPANGLISH panel. More than once me daban ganas de llorar. The subject-matter and the way it was handled by you and all the panelist touched me deeply. Guess I’m just sensitive. Keep writing. I want to hear your story. Un abrazote y beso desde Boston.
Juan! How wonderful the experience!! Dolores Huerta, what an honor! I am so glad you had a great time!
Wow, Ana and Ezzy! I am truly touched by your kindness and love… It really was a real treat meeting everyone and spending such quality time talking and laughing con todos.
Vianney, thank you!
Wish I could have been there to be one of the ones giving/getting abrazos – maybe next year! But at least I got to sit in on your session via internet. That was pretty awesome and you all did a great job on a topic I love.
I remember my first event when I met so many of our bloguera friends. Having people calling out your name and being so excited to see you – it does make one feel unworthy. LOL. These are beautiful friendships we’ve made online. I’m thankful we get to cement some of them in real life.
Truly special that you got to meet Ms. Huerta.
I know! After we had hugged her goodnight and wished her a safe trip in the morning, we just stood there and could not believe what an amazing experience it had been to meet her on such a personal level. It truly was the icing on the cake for all of us… and you and I definitely owe each other un tremendo abrazo!!
Juan – thanks for capturing the essence of our experiences at LATISM ’11. This is the second opportunity to meet Dolores Huerta and was honored to have her at our conference. Thanks to you and everyone that comprise our LATISM community. Indeed, we are family! Hasta pronto hermano!
Awesome post Juan, BTW you seem to glow in that photo with Dolores 🙂 so glad you had a great experience and YES! you deserve all that love!
Glad we had a chance to meet in person, and that you weren’t creeped out by my Twitter-stalking you 🙂
Juan, I waved, smiled and said hello, but you were one person I wished I would have had more time to talk with and hug more. As my co-nominee for inspiration te doy award honor con corazon porque te lo mereces! Un abrazo.
Thank you, Blanca! I would have loved to talk to you more as well & I think that award was very much well deserved for all the hard work and effort you put into your blog 🙂
Juan… todo te lo mereces por tu ENORME corazón! I wish we´ll get a chance to meet en vivo y a todo color some day. Fingers crossed!