California was mythical, even in reality.

San Diego was a whirl of sunshine and parties and fish tacos. i don’t eat fish. i almost never stay up for 24 hours dancing and talking about porn and philosophy with people i’ve never met before. i don’t often read my own words to crowds of thousands, or try to hug them all afterwards. yet i swear it happened. and Mark Twain was right, San Francisco in the summer was colder than winters i’ve spent. people had down jackets on. in August. i hadn’t believed. my unbelief is fixed, now. and i have a new sweatshirt.

one week away. one week without children. first time in more than five years.

the verdict is in: we still like each other. there is still some syncopated rhythm between us two, even when the two small drummers and the routine we all march to are removed. it is good to know. you hope, but you cannot quite know.

mind you, we spar more in their absence. more attention to give, to smooth out, to make something of. i am difficult. i work overhard at this. it may sometimes be exhausting.

(we’ve flown all night, seated in front of a very loud, entitled woman who was apparently new to the 21st century and to the concept of not sharing every. single. thought in her head at full volume with the entire. fucking. airplane. did you know that there are screens on the seatbacks? yep. she got a full tutorial which she repeated for everybody. at midnight. did you know that the seats tilt back? full tutorial on that too. she ordered a chicken sandwich at one am. turned on her light so she could dissect it for the listening pleasure of the whole plane. she didn’t eat it. her voice was a giggly caricature of middle-aged feminine faux-passivity. yes, she probably had anxiety. or mental health issues. still, it was a five hour flight and even with my earplugs in i only managed to sleep about 45 minutes. i wanted to smother her with a lipstick. Dave slept like a baby. all that to say he might have been a little wiped out.)

but we had fun. and i was surprised. it was my first BlogHer, and our first trip to California, and i thought it was possibly a ridiculous mistake to try to combine the two. but i am not one to shy from a ridiculous mistake if i can kill two birds with one stone, and ill-conceived whim or no, it rescued me from the nail-biting of having to try to find a roommate for the conference and discovering i am actually a pariah whom nobody wants to sleep with. even platonically. so, i brought Dave.

and he was game. really game, genuinely hey, i’m putting my best self out there game and hey, i am totally happy to take care of myself while you hang with your friends game and really just altogether agreeable and cool and some part of us time-travelled back years to a life we left behind a long time ago, where we were social and fey and the life of the party. he even deigned to play tourist in San Francisco and take pictures of me in cheesily mythic locales, waving at the ghosts of Jerry Garcia and Jack Kerouac. we danced, and we were flaneurs wandering city streets and we sat with old friends and laughed, and made new ones. i turned my head once, sidelong, and said hey you in a tone i haven’t used in years, and he laughed and i thought we could have a rocking good time at the old age home someday, us two.

(our cupcake cuteness courtesty of the lovely & talented Schmutzie, aka Elan Morgan).

so is it true? is joint BlogHer the key to cohabital bliss?

well kinda. BlogHer itself is everything you think it might be, and more. people will write better on that than i. it’s huge, and overwhelming, and fabulous to see people, and i’m not much for swag but i liked the BlogHer folk immensely and loved having my arms around people who’ve previously mostly been words and stories, for me.

all that would have been a pleasure on my own. i actually spent a lot of the conference on my own, because Dave’s pass was only for the evenings. so i met new people. i researched. i sat in on sessions and discussions. i had my nails painted yellow – for free – by a day hire for Tropicana. i sat backstage with the Voice of the Year women, which made me feel ten feet tall and wrapped in a hand-stitched quilt of kindness and support.

but when i stepped out onstage in front of everyone, i knew he was there.

no need to explain it later, to try to capture it. i knew his face was smiling up at me, a pillow for the quilt.

because this is the secret rule, people, the one that is the key to all public coupledom beyond the bounds of cloistered domesticity and duty. one simple thing.

your spouse needs to get that people online are real. that’s it. if you leave it to BlogHer to shove that message through an unwilling skull, you’re wasting half your weekend.

but if you ever had a love letter relationship, it’ll work. if your partner understands that connecting with people through words makes for deep ties, bring ‘im. bring ‘er. give ‘er.

it helps if he or she likes people. and is maybe your friend, as much as or more than your romantic mate. BlogHer is no space for jealousy.

it also helps if he or she is cool not knowing everybody. because even you won’t. no matter who you are.

and if he or she is cool wandering off alone sometimes, so you can connect with people as yourself and not just a member of a twosome.

and if he or she is willing to hold his or her own, and be your social equal, whatever that means for the two of you and the circles you run in, that’s the clincher. if you’re a talker or a joker or a wild party-dancer and your blog community are Just Like You and your spouse isn’t, he or she may stick out as an extra, rather than a member. there are all kinds of intersecting communities there to be part of, and they’re porous and fairly welcoming, but they are based on affinity. membership is extended, if a person can step into the roles available.

know your people. and your person. if you think they’d be a rotten fit, don’t do it to any of you: don’t go to BlogHer together.

if you need to justify your hundred internet friends to your loved one, you will have a miserable time. if you need to justify your loved one to your hundred internet friends, you will have a miserable time.

if your loved one likes the idea of meeting and expanding your circle of internet friends – and perhaps taking The Palinode hat shopping in the process – then consider a party pass and a shared room.

you may surprise yourselves.

and when you go home, to the other life, the small world where few of us are superstars, you will not have to explain anything. you will crash together back into it, neither of you owing the other. and you will think, damn, am i lucky.

hello kiddos. we missed you. we’re home. and we’re good.