I've compared conferences to sleep-away camp before, but this one felt more like being back in college: some of the papers were great; others I survived by doodling and passing notes with friends. All our meals were noisy, joyous affairs--full of argument and gossip and drink. And every night Ally and I stayed up late, talking into the dark from the warmth of our beds.
As in college, though, this had its downside. One morning we had to get up early for a friend's panel, and when Ally's alarm went off we'd had only a few hours of sleep and were still half drunk.
"Oh, God," I moaned, realizing that I had my own panel that day.
"Why did I set my alarm for 7.35?" she asked. "Seven-thirty-FIVE? What the hell?"
We lay there for a few minutes, thinking.
"Do I owe you money?" I asked. "I must. Goddamn hotel bars."
"You gave me loads of money." Then she laughed. "[That thing] was pretty funny."
I looked at her blankly. "What?"
She repeated herself.
"That did not happen. You're making that up."
"We need coffee."
"Starbucks. Across the street."
"Is my brain broken?"
* * * * * * * * * * *
It was not, in fact, broken, and the day turned out to be lovely--because, just as if we were still 22, we rallied with astonishing speed, attended every session, and went out again that night.
I'm grateful that I'm not 22 and this isn't habitual. Still, I have renewed respect for my students.