While trying to recover from a terrible case of South by Sars, I’ve been reflecting on my trip. A lot happened during this SXSW and there’s a lot for me to mull over, but there’s really only one moment I want to talk about right now. It’s my favorite moment from this year’s SXSWi and one that I’ll remember long after I forget all the parties I went to and business cards I collected.
There are rare moments in life when you’re doing exactly what you should be doing, with the people you should be doing it with and the rest of the world just falls away for a split second. It’s extremely hard for me to be in the moment since I spend most of my life obsessing over what happened yesterday or predicting the doom that tomorrow brings. Yet somehow in these rare instances I know instinctively that this moment is a special one and I just sit back and cherish it.
The first time this happened to me was one summer night maybe before we all left for college or maybe after our freshman year, I don’t quite remember. I do remember that I was with my closest childhood friends hanging out on Amanda’s trampoline. I got sick of jumping so I just laid back, looked at the stars and listened to the gabbing going on around me. I knew this moment was epic and that soon we’d be too old to spend summer nights jumping around on a trampoline. We’ve spent lots of time together since that night, but nothing has been quite as carefree since then.
Now fast forward a few years. When the epic moment of epicness happened at South By, I wasn’t quite dressed for the occasion. When I picked up Devin and Kristen from their dinner I was wearing the black dress and wedge sandals that I had on for a client event earlier that evening. On our way to the evening’s festivities, we stumbled upon the Carousolar, a solar powered carousel courtesy of GE. We had all walked by it before, but none of us had tried it out yet. So like little kids we skipped over to the Carousolar and queued up for our turn to ride. When I was little I rode carousels all the time snuggled up next to my grandfather in the carriage so they have a special place in my heart, but I haven’t been on one in years.
Considering my preference for the carriage (even though I had no one to cuddle with this time) and the likelihood of a wardrobe malfunction (high heels + short skirt + carousel horse + my clumsiness = bad news), I was going to play it safe and just sit in the carriage by myself. But for some reason at the last minute I figured “Screw it!” and just climbed up on a carousel horse, short skirt, high heels, multiple bags of swag and all. Once the carousel started rotating, the horses began galloping and the music came on, I truly felt like a little kid again. Even though we were checking in and videotaping and twitpicing all the while (you can put a girl on a carousel horse, but you can’t take the tech geek out of the girl), it was a moment of sheer bliss. Somehow despite being and adult and knowing the mechanics behind a carousel and the lesson being imparted with a solar carousel, the magic of riding a fake horse around in circles is still strong.
And when the carousel stopped spinning and the music went off, I managed to get down off the horse without hurting myself or flashing anyone else. Devin even commented that I was quite graceful. As soon as my feet hit the ground the moment was over and I was back to being a grown up.
Post-SXSW coverage always focuses on the best panel or next big startup, which are all very valid discussions and important ones to have, but for me the best moments of SXSW will always be the times I spent with friends. Singing Backstreet Boys or Lady Gaga in the back of a Chevy, falling asleep in the Hilton lobby while being poked incessantly to ensure I don’t actually fall asleep, riding a carousel horse, walking down the street while singing along to “Whip My Hair” and whipping our hair; this is what I love most about the annual migration to Austin.
Where you at SXSW this year? What was your favorite moment?