This past weekend, I attended the Catalyst conference in Atlanta. Catalyst is a Christian leadership conference (have I ever mentioned that I work at a church?) headed up by my married-man preacher crush, Andy Stanley, and it truly is one of my very favorite events of the year. Most of the time I attend with some fellow ministers and church employees, but this year, everyone except me ended up backing out at the last minute.
No biggie. But I am a single lady (whoop whoop, Beyonce), and it IS Atlanta, so I wasn't all that keen on going there by myself. Which is where my bright idea happened:
I asked my Dad (who pastors a church in Alabama) to come with me.
I picked him up at my parents' house on Wednesday night, and we drove the two hours to Atlanta together. I have to hand it to him - he let me sing along to Imogen Heap, Band of Horses, Iron & Wine, and William Fitzsimmons (ok, and maybe lots of "Glee" songs...) all the way there and didn't leave my car supremely depressed.
We got to our hotel around 11 PM Georgia time, and checked in to our hotel room. Yep. One room. We had decided to save some money and stay in one room. Ok. Let it be said that I haven't shared a hotel room with either one of my parents since about tenth grade, but I wasn't that worried. I chose the bed by the a/c since Dad gets a sore throat pretty easily. He got me to watch an episode of "NCIS" (not too bad) and I forced him to watch some "LA Ink." He at least pretended to not be horrified when a he-she arrived at High Voltage asking for a full-back tattoo of a stripper (at which point he looked at me with concern and said "Amanda...you wouldn't...ever do THAT, would you...?" I just gave him a withering "do-you-know-me-at-ALL?" look).
We turned off the lights at about 1 AM, and Dad immediately fell asleep. At first, he was doing this little cute "puff puff" of air breathing, and I thought "Well, that's not so bad." While he was puffing away, I realized that I could clearly hear the tinkling lobby music from downstairs. I had just realized that they were playing a bar piano version of "Hit Me Baby, One More Time" when Dad's puffing turned into a death rattle snore. There was no buildup. Just full on potential death noises.
I actually sat up to look at him just to make sure that he wasn't swallowing his tongue or something. But, no. He even had a slight smile on his face.
I finally drifted off to sleep around 5 AM, just in time for the alarm to wake me up at 5:45. By that point, Dad sat up, stretched like a Folgers coffee commercial star, and went to shave. I, on the other hand, when it was my turn, moved like a zombie.
The first day of the conference was completely amazing. The music was great, the speakers were fantastic, and I got choked up about a zillion times. Afterwards, Dad and I went to dinner and had a really wonderful conversation about church, God, loving God, loving other people, books, etc. It's always wonderful to realize that you actually like your parents - not just because they're your parents, but because they're truly likable and interesting people.
I slept like a rock the second night, snoring or no snoring, and we headed back for the second day of the conference. We ended up sitting by a girl with a Gatorade bottle.
Ok. I've mentioned several times that I can't stand to hear people eating loudly. It drives me nuts. I've also mentioned that my dad and I share a frustration with people who distract us at the movies, etc. After she downed her Gatorade, this chick just kept squeezing her bottle.
Pop. Pop. POP. Crack. Swoosh. Pop. Pop. CRACK!
No one else seemed to notice. I was starting to feel panicked, because I could not concentrate on T.D. Jakes at all. All I could hear was the bottle. My dad was actually sitting right next to her, and I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye. He was rocking back and forth just slightly, which meant he definitely heard it.
Suddenly, he leaned over to the girl and said in his kindest, pastoral tone "Honey? Could you stop that? It's completely irritating."
Part of me was relieved he'd finally gotten her to stop, but part of me wanted to sink through the floor. Oh, well. Like daughter, like father. (However, she got her revenge - about a minute later, she began to methodically rip the label off the bottle, all the while giving my dad the Stink Eye.)
Both Dad and I left the conference totally rejuvenated and ready to write bestselling Christian books and/or praise and worship music. We'll see. I'm definitely going again next year, and I hope my dad goes with me. He's a great conference buddy.
I'll just make sure to bring earplugs next time.