As much as I would like to, I can't seem to sit down and write about my experience at Shadow Lane without talking about the energy leading up to my departure. So I met with the Englishman on Thursday for coffee to discuss Shadow Lane. I had decided the night before not to go because of several factors: I could tell that me going made him uncomfortable (to say the least), and the fact that I didn't have a ride, a room and no longer had an alibi made me wonder if the universe was telling me that perhaps this wasn't the best idea. I thought he would be happy with the news, as it has been a slow negotiation over several weeks. Instead, he seemed ambivalent, which left me wondering if he, in fact, didn't mind whether I went or not, sparking further discussion. We both seemed to be chasing our tails, me looking to make it work, flooding him with questions, and he was left wondering with all these questions if I was determined to go no matter what he said. The heat didn't help and we left on uncertain terms.
I ended up writing to him twice later that day, as I simply couldn't settle my thoughts. I was left feeling insecure. I would have been happy not to go if he was solid in communicating his displeasure, but I would also be more than happy to go with his blessing. The stress of daily life was already doing me in and this was simply adding to that mountain. I would have been glad for this decision to have been made for me, but instead I wrestled with it until the last moment.
With no email from him early Friday morning, I decided I was going to start packing my bags, planning on leaving in order to arrive in time for the newbie party at 3pm. Instead, I received a message from him around 10am. We texted back and forth, working through our perspectives. It was a conversation definitely worth having as by the end of it we were both very clear on where each of us stood as well as the reasons behind those feelings. I now was going to attend under the specific idea that I was going to go meet people and to observe a large scale spanking party. If I were to go, I could top other women (ha!), but that would be the only play I was to see. The "conversation" lasted an hour and a half, and now it was time to kick it into high gear. There was no chance I was making the newbie party, and with every minute that passed I would be stuck in slower traffic.
My first order of business was to make contact with a possible roommate. She was excited that I was coming and was happy to share her room with me. Perfect! Normally I would have planned weeks ahead of time, shopping, carefully picking out outfits, getting pedicures. Instead, I found myself throwing dresses into a bag, grabbing fistfuls of random panties, and tossing only the most essential make up into a train case. After a quick stop at the bank, I was on the road. It was 2pm and I was finally on my way.
I tried to listen to my audiobook in attempts to make the time go by, but my mind kept wandering, excited about the weekend and all the events that were to come. Marky Marks of Secret Spanko fame kept me company along the way via bluetooth, giving me a more in depth perspective of his time at TASSP. He assured me I'd be fine and I was as excited as ever. As I got closer to my destination, I realized that the timing might work out perfectly to pick up my roommate at the airport. It couldn't have worked out better as trying to meet up at the hotel would have added another complication. Instead, I was able to pick her up when she landed at 6:30pm and we used the short car ride to get to know each other before fumbling through what would be both of our first parties, together. We both had a laugh at the fact that we each secretly feared that the other would be a man and were relieved that we each lacked that Y chromosome that would have made things more than awkward.
We got to the hotel and found our way up to our room. We both took a moment to freshen up and were eager to get to the Vendor's Fair. We made our way through the smoke filled casino to the Grand Ballroom. As the we opened the double doors we were greeted at the front table. I purchased my $150 party ticket, granting me entrance into the ultimate spanko convention. Almost immediately I was star struck as Erica Scott walked by. Luckily for me, my partner in crime is an extrovert, immediately introducing herself. I tagged on and Erica proved to be a woman of her word, giving me the biggest bear hug her tiny frame could offer. I pretty much could have turned around and went home at that point and would have been perfectly happy! We immediately hit the bar as the party had officially started with our arrival. As I waited for my drink, an older (in his 70s? 80s?) gentleman approached me asking me if I would be interested in joining his fraternity. He pulled out a wooden paddle from his jacket. I politely declined and thought, "oh boy, this is exactly as I had imagined..." To my happy surprise, it turned out to be an isolated incident. After grabbing our drinks, we made our way around, circling the perimeter. My roommate had made plenty of contacts ahead of time, being very technology savvy with Twitter. She broke off to meet her new friends as I got my shopping on. Half the room was made up of dvd distributors. I'm sure it would have been much more exciting had I been familiar with spanking movies as various models sprinkled the tables, signing and promoting their videos. As I got to the other side of the room, I did recognize Sarah Gregory from her blog and found myself speechless and without my extroverted friend by my side. I sheepishly walked by and asked a question about a cane and moved right along. There were only a few tables that sold implements, mostly beautiful handcrafted wood, some leather. I then came across the SCONY table, and was certain I was about to meet Lea, even though she lacked the package of peeps I was depending on identifying her by. I introduced myself to her and she in turn introduced me to Joey. It was really great meeting both of them and I was looking forward to visiting with them some more later at the party they were hosting. There was another booth selling jewelry of some sort, but I passed and made my way to the bar once again.
A couple more drinks and a few more rounds around the room, my roommate and I made our way upstairs, navigating our way through the different parties. We started at SpankOlympics, hosted by the Brits of Northern Spanking. It was fun to watch teams of two compete for in events like sprinting (how fast 100 swats by hand could be delivered) and dressage (an artistic interpretation of music to spanking). I left after the shooting event (how close you could deliver 6 cane strokes) and checked out Joe and Ten's room. I mingled with the crowd, talking to fellow spankos. I found Ten, introduced myself and sent her SecretSpanko's love as I was instructed to (which she returned, btw). I then made my way to the SCONY suite where I spent the rest of the evening. I hung out with Lea and Joey and met a few other people from SCONY. The suite was HUGE! What was unique about their suite was that they had these privacy cubicles set up, little areas where people could play in private. I never saw the inside of one of those, but did hang out by the bar area, meeting new friends, discussing everything from religion to relationships, and as they relate to spanking. After several of glasses of wine I retreated back to the room where I crashed into an inviting bed. It didn't take much effort as I knew I would need a goodnight's sleep in order to prepare for a day full of activities.
Friday was a short day, but it was a concentrated introduction to the happenings of a spanking party. I wish I had gotten there in time to meet all the other new folks, but it seemed that our paths would cross throughout the weekend. It was a blessing that Friday was kept short, as the next day was filled with spanking adventures.