Convention Cities: Chicago, New York, San Francisco. Great, glorious, gargantuan, reaching cities, founded on harbors and rail hubs, home of bridges and skyscrapers, underground trains and American Dreams.
But today we go to Orlando. Which is not really a city at all. More of an idea. A meditation. A salute. To how large things often come from things so small. After all . . . if we came to Orlando, 5 digits strong, we would have to meet in a citrus grove, if not for a mouse.
A reminder: All things are possible. Which is perfect to remember when we gather to build: Our careers, Our businesses, Our friendships, and Our industry. More than a few met their spouses. A not insignificant number of babies conceived over the years.
But mostly it is about business. The greats trying to stay that way and young people – in years or in spirit – earnest with a dream, come to show their wares, to talk up their project. They hope to catch an ear or an eye of someone who might make the difference.
My friend and I started a project and came that way once: We have something that never was before we said. And some people listened. And that made all the difference.
Have you ever noticed how much younger the crowd has gotten at the show? I say it but I know it isn’t true. It is just easier to say than have you noticed I have some gray in my hair now? Or to remember that I used to dance till dawn; Dinners, parties, and hospitality suites. Then would shower in time to make the breakfast.
My friend Stan, whom I met at the show, once told me that there is plenty of time to sleep when you are dead. I remember smiling at his funeral because I knew he had lived that way.
But there are alternatives to sleeping: Now I want to call home and tell my boys I miss them. See if I can make them understand that, somehow, I do this all for them. Well, maybe not all:
I find time for some special friends still. Pre-kids, pre-wife, a lifetime ago. One we’ve had dinner with every year for . . . I’ve lost count how many years. One pal was in my wedding, and we live far apart and are so busy at the show, but one night every year, when all our obligations are fulfilled, I stay up later than I should and nurse a Scotch just so I can tip my glass.
At the booth they bring me the dreams now. Want opinions. Want help. And I never try to dissuade them because if they are any good they couldn’t be dissuaded anyway. This year I know just what to say: All you can see is here, because one man – they name Land and Worlds after him now – believed in this mouse. Is what you propose any less plausible than that?
It is funny because it is all unnecessary. Indeed a waste of vast resources. Or so it seems. Perhaps the actions of people traveling from the corners of the globe to gather tell us something more: that with the Internet and video conferencing and the phone, of course, and even the availability of travel for one on one. Something there is that, as the poet wrote, doesn’t love a wall. That wants it down. Something in us that says we need each other, we need communion, we need mass, we need to see the ice in his eyes.
Sometimes I come a day early. I like to watch it rise. A great city built in a day. And sometimes I stay late. I watch it fall. Disassembled dreams. It is like Cinderella – a pumpkin became a coach and a girl finds a dream, so a bare floor becomes a castle and a young buck on the make finds his dream come true.
But then again, it may speak to the inadequacy of my education, but I didn’t learn of Cinderella from reading old German fairy tales. I owe it all to a mouse.