The Edel Gathering was created by the beautiful minds of Hallie Lord and Jennifer Fulwiler. It is a conference focused not on heavy schedules or glad handing your way up ladders, but as a reprieve. A place to connect with old friends and new. A day of inspiring speakers, who have been down in the trenches of motherhood and are able not only to invite shared laughter, but to embolden a room of 300 women to look at their vocations in a different way and embrace not only the joys but the trials.
I packed on Thursday afternoon, because I knew I’d be getting up welllllll before the crack of dawn of Friday. Might I suggest that if you need to leave your house by 4am, you have a friend who has just returned from Europe and is still functioning on UK time to take you to the airport. But regardless of circadian rhythm anyone willing to take you to the airport that early is a saint. (Thanks, Ian!)
When I arrived at the airport, the security line (yes, singular) was overflowing and moving about as fast as a glacier. Thankfully, I had been forewarned and was content to pop on some Apple Music, which hilariously already had a “Stuck at the Airport” playlist curated, and watch the drug dog sniff his way up and down the line of people. I finally made it through the scanner and was stopped for a “visual inspection” for (and I quote) “short hair.” I truly don’t know either, y’all. But the TSA waved over their female compatriot who leaned in for a glance behind me, muttered “you’re good,” and walked off. So… that was odd. Though a little less disconcerting than the guy who sat two seats over from me and insisted REPEATEDLY that we had had a long conversation at a Third Eye Blind concert “the other night.” Despite all of the levels of nope I offered, the dude who probably couldn’t legally partake of a bloody mary on this fine morning refused to slow his roll, until I saw a nice blonde girl juggling her bags and morning yogurt. I offered to help her balance all of her goods while directing her into the seat betwixt me and my overly enthusiastic friend. She got help with her stuff, he got someone more willing to be a conversational companion, and I got to sit quietly with my tea and read my Kindle unaccosted. Everybody wins!
My flight took the scenic route up to Chicago, before I changed planes to head to Charleston. When I arrived, I was thankful to have a ride to the hotel with Heidi who was renting a car and I was delighted to learn was an editor at Ave Maria Press with a full table of books available in the vendor’s hall during the conference. Needless to say, I had the opportunity to visit her again and buy the recently released Unleashed by Sonja Corbitt, AND pre-order My Badass Book of Saints, written by a fellow attendee and all around awesome lady, Maria Morera Johnson. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I invited Rakhi and Casey up to my room, so that we could walk into the ballroom together for the cocktail party (bravery in numbers), and was just lacing up my absolutely insane dino boots when they arrived. After one false start, when I forgot the flashy bling (literally) for my shoes, we headed down and were greeted by Jen’s sweet aunt, and over 300 hundred Catholic women from all over the country and its territories (seriously, someone flew from GUAM. WITH A BABY!) So, drink tickets, you say?? I determinedly led our little group to the bar and order a nice glass of red. By the time we stepped to a high top table, the group had grown and just continued growing. I decided to risk my nervous stomach with some grits BECAUSE CHARLESTON. They were being served on the opposite side of the long room. I scooped a plate full and added a little cheese. Making it back to the opposite corner took over twenty minutes, because I kept running in to more or more people. Other Edel alums, dear friends whom I haven’t seen in too long, friends I’d only known online until now, and people who had read my unworthy little blog and just wanted to say hey. I was completely overwhelmed, but equally delighted. The room was filled to brimming with some of the kindest, most accepting, side-splittingly hilarious women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.