"Yours was the best one," my last student murmured and I resisted the urge to cuddle him and instead squeezed his forearm with great affection before thanking him.
I sighed when the room emptied for the seventh time, facing my partners in the day o' lectures and sighed. "We were amazing," I told them, "but I am exhausted." They smiled and agreed and I plodded back to the podium and began to grade the last batch of quizzes before scampering to the closing session.
I shook hundreds of hands. I mustered excitement and emotion for every group, gesturing and imploring and offering stories. I answered questions, only writing 3 of them down throughout the day so I could check with my more technical colleagues. But, for the most part, we were completely prepared and wildly impressive.
I find events like this are rough in the preparation. I've been preparing slides since I was in Japan. I've practiced and reviewed with various teams and rehearsed in my car while making my short commute. I've critiqued my colleagues and yelled at Adam for changing formats again and whimpered with delicious gratitude upon falling into bed at night.
"So much fun!" I told my boss's boss when he continued to check in. For there was a positive energy throughout the days - an eagerness to learn and discuss and understand. And I do like talking. "I'd actually rather present than listen," I told one of the attendees when he asked how I was holding up. "Time goes faster if I'm thinking and people pay attention to me." I felt comfortable and confident and found myself thinking I love my job. Which is always a nice feeling.
It was sipping wine at one event and marveling at the elegance. It was gulping coffee at 5:30AM and praying I could make it through just one more day before life slowed down a bit. It was blearily typing emails to arrange a different event for next week, glancing at my Blackberry and trying to answer the critical questions so the details were properly arranged. There were cosmos at the end, followed shortly by margaritas and guacamole at a relaxed team dinner. It was winks and grins and applause as we worked. Rubbing shoulders, kissing cheeks and walking with linked arms as we chatted and argued and laughed.
My family arrived midweek and I added the rather surreal moments of opening my eyes at 1AM and finding Smallest One grinning at me from the side of the bed. "I'll come up there," she informed me and I scooped her up and settled her on a pillow before falling asleep once again. They came in this morning to check on me, two wonderful girls with tousled hair and monkeys on their pajamas with wide smiles and eager inquiries over when I was waking up and what we were going to do today.
"I'm happy," I told Mom and Dad when I finally got home last night. "It's been wonderful and busy and I'm so proud of how well we did. But I'm exhausted - I need quiet and solitude and sleepytime." All of those will be in short supply over the next week - my expected (and eagerly anticipated) lull next week morphing somehow into busy days at work followed by important social events in the evenings.
But it's going well. I feel productive and smart and rather special all around. And a surprise bonus as we left dinner last night was just icing.