"Did you enjoy it?"
"Yeah," I said, a little louder than normal due to the din made by everyone else in the room. "Best one ever." And I stood up, hugged Molly, shook Michael's hand and swept from the pub out into the cool night air.
As I made my solitary way towards the nearest tube station, I realised that I meant it. Not because it was in London, so I didn't have to pay for a hotel. Not because I got to run a session this year, despite pitching one every year since 2012. Not because GOTN bought me a drink in the pub while I was trying to relax. Not even because I was talking to Molly and she's been one of the triumvirate running the show this year.
I said it because, truthfully, 2017 was indeed the best Eroticon ever.
It must be said that such a large social event will never be without its flaws. I've always attended 'con for the social aspect, first and foremost, and while I was missing those whose absence was felt - Charlie, Blacksilk, Lady P - I found myself in excellent company with the return of both Rose and, in her Ambassador guise, Cheryl: both of whom were missed last year (by me, at least). Emmeline Peaches, who I met earlier this year, was better and geekier than ever. I also got to meet some amazing new people, with a huge and noticeable influx of Americans making their presence felt. I'm blaming GOTN squarely for this one, but considering that that includes two Sarahs, that's probably the good kind of blame.
I also have a fuckton of new people to add to my blogroll, which is a Good Thing.
I went to ten sessions this year, and almost ruined my pen with the amount of notes I took. Sex and the Media was fascinating and informative; Sex Blogging as Feminism & Social Justice was empowering - as was the closing panel, How to Use Your Blog to Educate. Pitching 101 was hilarious; Obscenity and the Printed Word was entertainingly dismissive of the Digital Economy Bill; Plotting the Erotic Story allowed me to get my writer hat back on. Both of Kate Lister's sessions made me feel like a real academic; Conflict Resolution in the Call-Out Era was almost combative in nature. I took away something from every session.
It's probably kindest to brush breezily past the session I ran, but for what it's worth, I don't think it went particularly terribly - even if I did overrun by five minutes. I don't know whether it was due to the fact that all the chairs in the room were full, or that all the technology worked, or even that I got to talk about myself for an hour and nobody stopped me. But I'm very pleased that it happened, and I do hope it was at least a little inspiring. If there's any new content generated as a result of my ramblings, please do let me know, at least.
There's so much more to say, isn't there? About the entertainment - finally getting to see Ros Ballinger, reconnecting with Rubyyy Jones after years and discovering Chris Coltrane for the first time! And the sponsors - meeting the fun guys from Godemiche, the T-shirt distributors from Hot Octopuss and the god-like people with the power to somehow requisition the URL of fuck.com without bankrupting themselves! And the readings - a huge array of talent springing from the seats (Hannah being a particular favourite of mine), Zak with a particularly powerful blog post and not everyone leaving their seats when I attempted by own brand of stand-up!
In fact, there is so much to say that it is completely impossible to do so. To pack everything into a weekend (and a bit) is superhuman - to fully comprehend it afterwards takes months. And, for that reason, I don't think I ever will. That's why these posts are always so rambly.
I want to say "I love the community" in more than those four words. But, essentially, I can't.
I won't be at all of Eroticon next year. I'll be there, for sure; the Saturday is scheduled on my birthday, though, and I've already booked to see Hamilton that afternoon. But, as I think Jillian proved this weekend, it is perfectly possible to miss a few hours of 'con, and still have as full and entertaining experience as you can. That is one of the joys of 'con: however long you are there for, it always has something new to offer.
And whoever you are - past, present or future - whether you are an organiser, a speaker, a sponsor, a delegate, someone who turns up for the drinks, and/or someone named Sarah - you make Eroticon what it is, every single one of you. And for that, from the very middle of my sex blogging soul, thank you. I love you all.