Initially, I had “made peace” with the idea that I wasn’t going to attend the conference because it’s in Portland and I’m a million miles away. I figured that it would be a hassle to travel in the middle of the semester. Whatever it was that I told myself about going, it all got shattered this past summer in Portland. My friends talked me into going and so when October rolled around, I was ready and filled with excitement. I was excited about the conference, about being back in Portland, about getting a little break from school, and about seeing my sweet friends who I met this past summer.
When I landed in Portland, I was so kindly picked up by one of my friend’s husbands because she was in class. They have both been so kind to me. He took me to my hotel. As we drive through the streets of Portland, I felt so happy to be back there. The green trees everywhere and the clean air. The trees are particularly amazing and wonderful. They are not like regular trees. They are droopy looking Christmas trees and they are beautiful.
When I got out of the car, I and my luggage were shuffled into a beautiful hotel lobby. I was filled with excitement. I got my key and went up. My room was beautiful. It was small and cozy but it was clean and felt great. Considering the horrible dorm room experience that I had the last time I was in Portland, this was a wonderful change. Just as I was getting settled, I got a call from one of the girls. Her voice was excited and she was so happy to talk to me. It was wonderful to talk to her and catch up. As soon as I hung up with her, one of the other girls text me. We chatted for awhile and then my phone rang again. It was another one of my sweet friends. She wanted to go for dinner. I got up and started getting myself ready to go out with her. As I was getting ready, I was filled with so much love and gratitude. My three friends were happy that I was back in Portland and I couldn’t wait to see them.
As it got dark, I stepped out into the wet, cool air of the Pacific Northwest. Within a few minutes, my friend pulled up. I was so happy to see her that I could have skipped to her car but I kept it together. I got in and gave her a great big hug. We drove to a cozy little vegan cafe. We had dinner and laughed the whole time. When I got back to my hotel, I took a shower, face-timed with my mom, and went to bed.
The next morning I got up ridiculously early. I was so excited. I got all dressed up and went down to the lobby. I walked out into the street and breathed in the cool, crisp air. It was magical. After a lot of wandering back and forth to my room and all over the lobby, it was time for the Student Convention. The Conference was starting later that evening but Animal Legal Defense Fund put together a wonderful day of learning for up and coming law students.
The Student Convention started with a delicious vegan breakfast spread on the top floor of the hotel. There were floor to ceiling windows and you could see all of Portland. It was amazing to eat breakfast and look over the city with the sun bouncing in. We got to watch Portland wake up! There were law students attending from all over the U.S. and the world. After breakfast, we were brought into a conference room where the panels started. After the panels, it was time for lunch. We were served another delicious vegan spread. After lunch we got to hear from Joyce Tischler! For those of you who don’t know who she is, she is the “Mother of Animal Law”. She is given that moniker because she is the founder of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. It was a treat to hear her talk. She had gone through many of the struggles that I currently an going through as the next animal lawyer. Hearing he gave me so much hope that it would all be ok for me.
Anyway, after a few more discussions it was time for the Animal Law Conference to begin. The conference was held in one of the ballrooms of the hotel which was located in the basement. When my friends and I walked in, we were soon greeted by waiters who were offering hors d'oeuvres, vegan of course. They were delicious. Again, there was another spread of delicious vegan snacks for the attendees.
I loved getting to meet animal lawyers from all across the country. I also really loved that my friends were right by my side the entire time. Eventually, the conference began. There were a few speakers to kickoff the weekend. When the evening ended, I hugged my friends goodnight and headed up to my room. I was exhausted. I chatted with my mom for a while, took a bath, and went to bed. I knew the next day would be another day filled with animal law, friends and fun.
For the next couple of days, I attended so many seminars and heard from so many inspirational people regarding so many topics in animal law. One night there was a vegan banquet dinner. I did get to sit next to a fascinating woman who lives in Seattle, on a houseboat, who is an animal lawyer. Basically, she's living my perfect life! I found out that she works at a firm that I am desperate to eventually get on at. So, naturally, I picked her brain about her fabulous life and job. We exchanged contact information and promised to stay in touch.
Sadly, the weekend eventually came to an end. On the last day, as my girls sat around me, I began to feel that all to familiar “going home” feeling. You know that feeling, when you have just had an amazing time and you have to leave. That stupid feeling of leaving people that you love so much. That knot in your throat, make me sick, ugly cry kind of feeling! I always feel like that when I am leaving my cousins in Canada when I got to visit. Well, sure enough, that feeling creeped in. When it was time to leave, I quickly hugged my friends and left in a hurried way. I didn’t want to drag it out. I checked out of the hotel and before knew it, I was getting into a shuttle to the airport.
The universe was in my favor that day though. As the shuttle drove through the streets of Portland, it stopped at another hotel to pick up another airport-goer. When she got in, I just had a feeling that she had been at the conference as well. Maybe it was the same sad look she had on her face as I did. After a few minutes, I asked her if she had been at the conference and sure enough, she had. She and I chatted and shared law school stories. As we arrived at the airport, we exchanged contact information as we noth headed off to our flights to get onto airplanes that were taking us in opposite directions. I was so thankful that the universe provided me a friend at that time. I got on my flight and headed home. After a layover, a lot of exhaustion, and a bit of irritation, I stepped out of the airport back home and saw my mom’s sweet face. I felt her love and happiness and was happy to be back. We headed home because I had school bright and early the next morning.
My experience at the conference was nothing short of amazing. I feel so lucky that my journey took me back to Portland. I hope that you all enjoyed reading about my phenomenal time. I know I could never put into words how amazing it was. It was just one of those “you had to be there” things. Thanks for flying away with me. Til next time.