It was 11:30 on a Wednesday night. I smelled of perspiration and derby gear. I was driving home from a long practice of toe stop drills and backward hitting: valuable things for a roller derby blocker. I was high on post work out rush and expectation of Blogher 13. Garrett and I chit chatted about nothing. "Are you packed," he asked. "Eh... not really. I will in the morning." I scrolled through my phone and a message popped up.
"Can I call you".
It was Vince, he is a peace corps volunteer in Micronesia. A friend in a far off country. We are linked only by our deep and unflinching love for the same woman. Teej Teasdale
I asked Garrett, my husband, to please pull the car over. He looked at me puzzled and pulled over. I looked a the clock 11:39, "oh fuck, she killed herself". "What! Did Vince just say that?"
"No," I said, "I just know." "Please let me be wrong. Please."
I waited for the phone to ring and I answered. "Is Teej okay, Vince."
She committed suicide. They couldn't find her, she went missing... and then they found her.
He melted again.
"Goddamn you, Teej."
I spent the entire night crying. I can't go to Blogher. I can't be there.
That morning I woke up to an empty house. It was 8 a.m.
My plane was slated to leave at 10. I shoved some items in a bag and left. I'll go to blogher. It will be better than being alone.
Everyone is writing their recaps of the sessions and the swag and the this and that and this and that.
The swag was fun. I mostly stayed away from asshole bloggers, and the sessions were good.
What you don't know about blogher is that it saved me.
Flying on the plane headed toward Chicago my body began to shake. I was sure I made a mistake.
WHAT THE FUCK. Teej is dead. I CANNOT DO THIS.
What I received when I arrived was unexplainable. Micro-moments of grace and healing. Woman after woman walked up to me. They pressed their face into mine and said, "you will be okay". Each woman grabbed my hand and tilted their head at me, staying silent, and locking a knowing glance. I received looks of approval as a slowly slipped out of a session in order to weep, triggered by who knows what. Julia and Briar and Aurelia and Liza and Cecily and Dresden linked hands across the aisle at VOTY and Aurelia whispered to me, "Look at who are holding your hands. We are holding you." Jc joked with me and Neil deflected in his typical neurotic fashion. I heard one million times "I am sorry" and "I love you. I am here for you." I heard those phrases with fevor and intention and deep compassion spill from women who have only met me through social media. Fadra was pissed with me, "this isn't fair Jasmine." Strangers mourning with those who mourn. Heidi sat outside the door of the bathroom as I vomited. It was as if my body wanted to void the pain from me.
Casey smiled with tender eyes and said over and over, "that sucks". Whatever I thought I knew about bloggers has transformed. There are so many narratives about bloggers. I've been guilty of painting bloggers, even identifying as one myself, with a broad brush. All that crumbled away in Chicago during Blogher 13. The bloggers of Blogher13 are a deeply human and loving collective, or maybe I just kept running into the right people.
Woman after woman healed me.
The last night I saw Shannon sitting with a group of friends. She called me over and asked me to lean in. She kissed my cheek and smiled. My eyes filled with tears and I turned by head away.
Such a simple acts of grace.
When I felt like I would slowly dissipate... like a cigarette that collapses, burned from the inside out and no longer able to hold form... I was held up and held together by love.
That kind of culture is created from the top down. Jory, and Elisa, and Lisa. The editors who care and love the people they support. I don't think it is coincidence that I found so much love and acceptance and wickedly fierce women willing to stand with me in my grief. I think this is the power of fierce women, empowered to tell their stories... as I will do for Teej
Thank you Blogher 13. Your love held me together.