I've been in Durban this week - hosting a group of delegates to the Int AIDS Conference here. Running 5 events, managing their registration and hotels and arrangements, being their bitch really.
(I ran into an old client while here and said just that - her gratifying response: 'Well, you are the best bitch in the business' - ha ha.)
I've run into so many old clients, connections, colleagues, friends. It's been like a live walk through of my CV - filmmakers, activists, artists, funders - I've run into people I've worked with at all the various stages of my career over the last 16 years, including the guy I did my very first large-scale event with, back in 1999! We met for dinner on my first night here - I hadn't seen him since 2001 - and had such a great catch-up.
It's been really good.
Our boutique hotel is totally fabulous - comfy, welcoming, homely, extraordinarily helpful - the group I'm with are fun and relaxed and appreciative. Durban is WARM. The food is delicious.
It's been really busy.
The events have been big. The days long and the conference really frenetic. The body is sore and the feet are tired.
It's been affirming.
A week away, working, adulting on my own not for kids or home, has been restful (in that weird way when after you become a parent any time you're not parenting is restful, despite how busy doing other things you might be) and empowering. To go to sleep and wake up alone allows for rare moments of quiet reflection.
Appreciative clients, epic problem solving, well laid plans - the week has been full of those, and I thrive on them.
It's been sad.
The content is sobering, the problems seemingly insurmountable sometimes. So many people working so hard and, relatively, so little change in the lives of the people most affected by this disease. See this summary of Charlize Theron's excellent address on Opening Night - she's so spot on.
(I realise more and more I'm too cynical and too emotional to get any closer to the work done by the activists I work with. This shit upsets me so much and I have zero faith in governments and policy makers to make a difference. This is the stuff of another post probably.)
But overall, it's been fantastic.
My last event just ended, I have a glass of wine - I'm catching up here, overhearing conversations about harm reduction in intravenous drug users, about multi-drug resistant TB, about the next conference in Paris, about the latest shooting in the States - and goddamn, I'm grateful to be me.
But wait, I have one more job: I'm throwing together a Conference Wrap Party for later tonight. Because these people work hard, because their work is hard, because my body needs to dance and because ...