For a weekend that I anticipated would get a little lonely (Mandi had to stay home and teach), I am so thankful to have made some new friends.
My journey took me ultimately to Bratislava where I attended a WordCamp – a community gathering of WordPress users and developers. It was the first time I have publicly spoken at such a conference and I presented on mature software development practices. As usual, I chose adventure over convenience, which means that I took the sixteen-hour-long bus ride and stopped over in Vienna and Dresden along the way, taking random turns as they came.
Slovakia left a a fond impression in my heart when I first visited in 2009 and I was excited to return. This time I didn’t get to explore the country, but I was able to see most of the different parts of Bratislava, something I missed out on before. The people I met were wonderful hosts and just as friendly as I had hoped for. They did a wonderful job planning and organizing the conference.
On the Contributor Day several of the Slovak community members and I worked together to try and improve the core of the open-source side of WordPress. We learned quite a bit and enjoyed conversing with each other.
I also got to know some of the WordPress folk whom I met in London but was too busy to hang out with. Jenny, Rob, Petya, and Noel work for Human Made, another fully-distributed company, and are currently in the middle of a road trip across Europe, from Sofia to Barcelona.
This clan of WordPress enthusiasts welcomed me into their tribe for the weekend and we had lots of fun eating together, watching a movie, and chatting about work and life.
When I overheard that they were also going to stop in Vienna after the conference, I told them that I too was going there and suggested we find a common place to work, but they took me by surprise when they said that they had extra room in their car and and would take me with them. So despite having already paid 9€ for a bus ticket, I gladly accepted their offer and had a blast all the way.
One of my coworkers in Vienna helped us find a conference room with power outlets and great WiFi. The group from Human Made continued their journey after lunch and I continued to work with Paolo. This morning we reconvened but at a new cafe while Luca and Alex, two more of my coworkers, also joined us. We ate together and discussed ridiculous fees from the telecoms in Germany/Austria, photography, and the nomadic lifestyle.
During the intermission between these mini meetups, I found myself in a room full of American exchange students from Ireland. Although I had planned on roaming around the city through the night searching for good night sights, we were all tired and I ended up playing cards with my roommates, chatting, and going to bed early. I was so glad I chose to stay in the hostel instead of a hotel – I would have been all alone in a sterile room and missed all the fun (and sleep).
Now I’m on a bus back to Hannover and my short trip will soon be over and I’ll be glad to be back with Mandi. It was a pretty roller-coaster weekend for me, really: a mix of the joy of social interaction and the sadness of being in a crowd of people and longing for a pal.
Coincidentally, while walking around Vienna, I came across this stone artwork but couldn’t see what it actually was – just a big oddly-shaped chunk of stone in the middle of a busy court. It looked like it might offer a good vantage point for taking a picture, but when I climbed on top, I saw the whole picture and just about cried.
You couldn’t see the words without climbing, meaning that just about everyone who walks by probably misses it. Right there, in the middle of everyone and everything you stand alone – even in the heart of this metropolitan hub – and no one notices.
I feel like the friendships that formed were a gift from God who knew how low I would be feeling and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who was a part of it. What might have been a terrible weekend was an amazing time that reenergized me and reminded me of my days at Purdue.
It’s all about the people.