The most recent Little People of America national conference is coming to an end right now in Boston. I was not there. I have not attended an LPA event since 2010.
The very first LPA convention I attended was in 1996 in Indianapolis. It was and is still a surreal experience. I’m the same height as everyone! I can make eye contact with other people with little effort!
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the conferences. As a kid attending, I had very few friends. Some years, I never hung out with anyone and just watched the spectacle. The kids are clique-ish and aren’t particularly welcoming to newbies. Everyone (even adults) really just attend each year to catch up with the people they already know. I totally understand it, but it sucks since I’m an awkward person initially and am not particularly good at barging in and introducing myself.
The other popular use of the conferences is as a week-long dating service. I only attempted to participate in that mission one year and it blew up in my face. Never again! I’d rather be single or find someone in the real world.
Friends often end up dating exes of their friends since the pool is pretty small. As a kid, I remember watching adults all over different people each night at the dances. I always thought of it as a delightfully fast paced slutty game of musical chairs. There’s obviously a good number of chaste interactions as well, but being a kid, I mainly just remember watching all the horniness on the dance floor in fascination.
It took me until the 2005 Orlando conference or so to hit my social stride. I finally had a handful of friends that I kept contact with in the months between. I had a small posse of sorts and it made the week way less awkward and pathetic.
2010 in Nashville is the most recent conference I’ve attended. It’s probably also the one I had the most fun at. I went balls out and sung a song in front of a huge ballroom of people at the talent show. It was terrifyingly exhilarating. I had never sung publicly like that before. The reactions and recognition in the days following were worth the terror. I am not so secretly an attention whore.
That 2010 conference was also the last I got to attend with my friend Monica before she died in February of 2014. I miss her every day. Losing her is one of the many reasons I’ve been hesitant to make plans to go to another. Not seeing her face there will make it more real that she isn’t here anymore. Most of my favorite ridiculous memories involve her and it’s hard knowing that it’s not going to happen again.
Having a primarily virtual long distance friendship is odd enough. When your friend dies, it’s hard to process. I still feel like I can send her a Facebook message or an email. Over two years later, I still have our last text exchanges saved to my phone.
I don’t know when I will attend my next conference, but you can be assured that I will probably be a sloppy mess the entire week. Even without the inevitable copious amounts of alcohol.