Community South 2019

Honestly, that’s what they should have called this. A month and some change after I met the crew in Portland, it was time to meet the community in my own state.

Prior to this, Rogie (beautiful human he is) got me a ticket for Creative South 2019 and Mike Jones gave me so enthusiastic a welcome I could have shed tears; if I hadn’t made up my mind to go already, this would have been the tipping point. I’d come down a bit before the conference to meet Mike, then enjoy the conference itself to the fullest extent possible.

However, there is a yiddish proverb that reads:

“When man makes plans, God laughs.”

– a yiddish woman who is still laughing at me somewhere

The echo of God’s laughter came in the form of my car rental on Wednesday of that week. I had called Enterprise and made the reservation. The day was nice and sunny. Warm, even. I was ready for the blessing of this meetup. From here, a break down with titles because we like that organized aesthetic.

WEDNESDAY

I’m about halfway to Enterprise in a cab when the manager calls me to tell me there are no cars on the lot. I ask for options to then be told that there aren’t any; every single car they will have has been redirected to Atlanta for the week and they will have nothing until Thursday at 5:30PM at the soonest. I add myself to a waitlist, then call every other car rental place to the same effect. I call a friend to vent about it and I play video games to sate my sadness before texting Mike to tell him I can’t make it to dinner.

My friends tell me I should be able to rent from some other place that uses credit cards with my Visa debit card.

THURSDAY

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no. That was my experience going to the only place that had a car. They unceremoniously said they had to run some check and their system didn’t take my card, then told me to have a good day.

I just went home and got some chicken tenders for comfort food, then took a nap. Mind, the day before they said 5:30PM a car would be available.

I awake at 5:35PM and immediately check the phones. No missed calls. I call the front desk to be informed that no cars are available. I inform them that they should have a car and was then informed that they only had one car that was reserved only for people with a reservation. I then inform them I have a reservation and was told that I could come pick up the car as long as I came before they closed. Failing this, no car would be available until Monday.

It was 5:40PM and they close at 6PM. Here I am in my third cab now to get to this place at which I arrive with 5 minutes to spare to get, not the economy car I’d requested, but a mini-SUV. Who cares? I’m just ready to go. I wait out the traffic and I start the drive down.

It is the night of the Bridge Party. It is also 10:45PM and the party started at 7PM or so. Who knows if anyone is still up? I’m irritated at life and I just want to lie down… except I don’t know where that is going to happen because I didn’t even think about this in the middle of DAGNABBITWHYISTHISHAPPENING?!

I call every hotel on the list to find that most of them going out for up to 45 minutes are booked to the brim and reservations are coming through by the hundreds. I sigh, then go to hotels.com and get things settled. I think of texting my friends at the event, but at this point? I hate everything. Tomorrow morning will be better. I go to sleep.

FRIDAY

I wake up empowered. I have determined that the challenges in getting here must mean that this conference and the people therein will be the singularly most amazing thing I’ve experienced in 2019.

Upon my arrival and finding parking, I walk in and introduce myself to the staff at the front desk. “Hm…. we don’t see that name here, but tell us how you ended up here.” I then told them how I’d ended up at the event and the next phrase was, “So we’re making an executive decision. Here you go.”

The frustration of the many days before melted from my being and I got to watch the first speakers. Meet the staff and students and other attendees. Picked up t-shirts. Ate food. Met Mike and took pictures.

To be sure, a highlight (if not the highlight) was being able to see Chris and Ryan and give them soul-melding hugs.

I talked to people throughout the day asking who they were and how they ended up here. Everyone I spoke with – to a person – was friendly and kind and more than willing to share a word or two even if it ran into other speaker time. I hugged necks and shook hands and collected cards. I bought clothes with messages I liked and then joined people for drinks and dinner.

Neverminding a small bit of hotel room shenanigans, this day was perfect. They even had free 24-hour parking.

SATURDAY

I said comfort and I meant it.

I. was. not. joking. when I wrote this tweet. I think I spoke with more people in an hour than I had the whole day before just on principle because who wears onesies to a designer conference.

Answer: me. I do these things. Honestly, I should consider a modeling career, because…

Could your fave ever? The answer is no. Your fave could never

Photo cred: Jordan.

I had lunch with everyone I hadn’t gotten to have lunch with the day before. The speakers this day touched on more than a few subjects I am quite passionate about and so I soaked it all in. As the conference wrapped up, I was on that mild high that I am sure everyone shared of just being with people who get it and share that passion that runs through all of us in design to make things better. Never perfect, but better for our having been there.

That said, the most intense part of the conference wasn’t in the conference at all.

THE CALL TO ACTION

You can’t just leave the scene of good design without something to do and this conference wasn’t going to be any different it seems. Sitting around a table at Metro Diner, which was the move that day, we talk about our experience and it comes up that, by trade, I’m not a designer.

Now, in case you’re wondering what it is that I do: here is a nifty video about it. However, we starting talking about what I want to do and this is where things get somewhat scary. With every word, I feel like my volume increases. Product design. I want to take all of these problems I want to see and fix them. I see design as a way to do that. To make things that are beautiful to see and easy to understand.

About 15 minutes in, they ask what the obstacles are and I share them and to a person: bruh, ux design is what you should be doing. WTF?

To have people that are successful doing what you want to do telling you you should be doing what they do… how do I describe that? How do I describe the feeling of a desert turning into an ocean? Into a garden? To everyone that spoke to me that day and to Damian who saw me at the end of Saturday night and said, “Hey. Take the advice, man. You have people who are cheering for you.”

Thank you.

I wish I had gotten time to say this to Mike so he could see my facial expressions, but I hope these words will do.

EPILOGUE

I went home, unsure of how to even follow up with all of you properly, but I will. I also went straight to my HR department and laid my passions on the table. I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m not sure of how this will go but I have good people who want me to prosper.

And now, I need to make sure Figma and Illustrator are up to date and learn these tools and make things. If for no other reason, than I have hope in my chest and now that I do, I have to see it through.

I also have to come back for the next one of these Creative South meetups among others like this one in June.

One more thing: f*ck the Masters. Golf is the devil.

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