It’s below freezing here in Trigny. Maman and Papa have ventured out under the gray skies and drizzle to choose the Christmas tree, leaving me alone by the fire in their five-bedroom country home. Pure silence is striking when you’ve just spent a whirlwind week running across Paris, dragging 50 lb luggage into crowded metro trains, meeting and greeting, walking for hours on city sidewalks in high-heeled boots, dancing to blaring Beatles music and fighting for taxis at 3 AM.
I’m left here to reflect quietly, reliving last week’s events over and over in my head. The feeling is bittersweet, the nostalgia of a summer fling mixed with the desperate hope of sitting by the phone on a Friday night. My slight heartache goes to show that the theme of this year’s conference, Love, was far from just a marketing gig.
OK, so the rooms were decorated with red and pink, filled with comfortable beds and lounge chairs covered with rose petals and heart-shaped cushions. Nonetheless, the sparks that fly between people at LeWeb are real. As real as those you feel on a first date, in a first kiss, in a concentrated gaze...
Therein lies the magic of the event - Loïc and Geraldine somehow manage so perfectly to bring the right people together at the right time, to convey the love they have for technology and entrepreneurship to a room filled with 1700 people from over 30 corners of the world. One can only imagine the ripple effects.
I know that changes in my own life, however so insignificant, are among them.
Exactly one year ago, I wrote a giddy review of my first LeWeb conference. My hands were literally trembling as I recapped my experience. Inspired, I recounted with admiration the courage and tenacity of the attendees, their creativity, their endurance. I was returning home with a new outlook on life, with a new obsession and fascination. Washington suddenly appeared so dull, Georgetown so pre-professional, and my entourage so lacking in innovation or creativity.
That being said, life certainly isn’t difficult for a young female student at a tech conference. After the glamour and glitz of networking and champagne-filled soirées has worn off, you return to the comfortable world of academia, free to admire and critique from a distance, perhaps writing a paper or two while sitting comfortably on college funds and fully-scheduled planners.
Given, I still have that luxury for another semester. Yet with each day that passes, I feel it slowly slipping away. With such a depressing economic outlook and savings that will soon be non-existant, my calander from May 2009 onward remains blank, filled with an emptiness both terrifying and envigorating à la fois.
Had I never attended LeWeb in the first place, or at least stumbled upon the infamous Loïc Le Meur, my post-graduation plans may not seem so intimidating. Now, my life as I planned it before seems boring. I used to imagine myself in a fancy office building with pearls, heels, and a business suit. I’ve networked enough in D.C. to surely stumble upon an entry-level position somewhere, at least when the economy picks up. I’m confident that I could eventually save enough money to have my own place in Clarendon, shop on weekends at Pentagon City mall for more fashionable clothes and spend every Thursday exploring happy hours downtown.
I still can. But maybe that life is worth foregoing for just a year if I can find another way to get myself off the ground. I don’t know how yet or with what means, but I know I’ll wear jeans and a t-shirt if I have to. My mind has begun to spin in a million different directions, I just need to figure out where my heart wants to take me...
That’s what LeWeb does to you. If the Conference theme was love, you might say the event in itself is like an extramarital affair which comes along and makes you question everything you used to live for. Above all, it’s done with an uncontrollable passion.
Loïc, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for another amazing experience. One day I will find a way to repay you for all you’ve done!