Cleveland, Ohio, April 25, 2013

The weather in the Midwest is never supposed to be better than the weather in the Northwest during Spring. It goes against the natural order of things.

So when I arrived in Cleveland to a hailstorm, I wasn’t sure how the weekend would turn out.

Thankfully, upon arrival at the hotel, I was greeted by some of my oldest and dearest friends in the world: Marylinn, Matt and Sherry. After a flurry of hugs and hellos with more fellow U2 fans, Marylinn and I retreated to my hotel room to play catch up. Babbling from excitement, we quickly decided we should rest for a bit before continuing on to our pre-conference party.

After a quick shower and some freshening up, we rallied the troops and headed to Flannery’s Pub where the conference had secured a private room for us geeks.

Pulling some couches in, we did what we do best—made ourselves at home and turned the setting into an impromptu family reunion. Over grilled cheese sandwiches, fish and chips and beers, we resumed being together as if no time had passed.

Fans we’ve met a million times, new staffers, conference guests and even a few strangers stopped over to say “hi,” debate setlists and argue over the merit of the album Pop. Since I was interviewing former Rolling Stone writer/editor Jim Henke the next morning, and we’d only met previously over email, he stopped by to chat with me about the game plan. I apologized for my pigtails; he said my hair looked just fine.

I experienced this evening through a complete zombie-like haze fueled by multiple drinks and only three hours of sleep.

Chris, one of our new crop of staff members who I’d never had the pleasure of meeting, was kind enough to walk me back to the hotel since I needed to sleep for the full workday I had ahead of me on Friday. I was grateful for the escort and thrilled to get to know him a little bit better.

A pretty perfect start to the weekend.