After one of the greatest weeks of my life, I am once again home in Arizona.
End of the Journey
By the time most of us in the room awoke this morning, our remaining party of eight was already down to five. Nabeshin had the earliest flight and slipped out before anyone noticed, leaving a parting message in our room's group chat on Facebook (he had also said some sweet words at yesterday's farewell ramen dinner). Then Christian and Cameron left around the same time an hour or so later, again writing us on the way to the airport.
The rest of us (me, Frank, Joe, Xyger, and Kaylie) enjoyed a bit of a leisurely morning, sleeping in and slowly packing up to depart. My flight at 2:15pm would be the earliest departure but since the hotel room was in my name and we wanted to stick together, we checked out around 11am and caught and uber to the airport. Unfortunately, Frank and I were in one terminal while Joe, Xyger and Kaylie were in another. We all checked in at our respective terminals and met up in the middle outside security. I voiced that I didn't think we'd actually be able to meet up after security but everyone else insisted we would so we each head back through our respective terminals security lines. After an incredibly quick jaunt through security (less than 10 minutes much to the chagrin of my mother who insisted the lines would take hours), we looked around.
Turns out I was right.
Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are not connected past the security checkpoints.
The layout of SFO effectively robbed me of a heartfelt goodbye from arguably the three people I spent the most time with in San Francisco.
So instead of teary-eyed hugs, we resorted to pouty-faced selfies and texts back and forth. Fortunately Joey Noelle joined Frank and I in our terminal and we were able to snag a goodbye conversation with her instead. She and I were leaving but my flight was the first to board so we all hugged each other tight, even though this is a pretty quick turnaround before we see each other again. Not only can Frank and I grab Portillo's pretty much anytime, but all three of us are going to be at Let's Play Live in a couple weeks.
And then I was gone, wistfully hoping for the time when I can call San Francisco home.
KFL vs. KFL2?
One of the most common questions I was asked was how Kinda Funny Live last year compared to this year's event. I love them both for very different reasons but part of me gives the edge to the original. Kinda Funny Live 2 was inarguably bigger and bolder in pretty much every way. But for me, there will probably always be something special about looking back at that first event.
I arrived in San Francisco last year for a week's vacation thinking I'd maybe do some sightseeing, attend the show and the couple of community events they'd thrown out there, and then record the Gamescast. Instead, I met and immediately clicked with upwards of 30 or 40 people. I went from being a relative unknown in the community to a temporary VIP. People I talked to in attendance learned I would be doing the Gamescast and were excited for me. And the people who couldn't attend appreciated the pictures, updates, and recap I posted in the Facebook group. And I met people who I now consider some of my very best friends.
A year later, with four more events under my belt, I came into this a somewhat prominent member of the community: a D-list celebrity if you will. I came in knowing probably roughly 100 people from past event and met a whole lot more at this one. I'm 212 days into producing daily content for this site. I've been around the guys enough that a quick hug or a handshake is all I might be looking for from them because I'm content to let the people who have never met them get their moment in the sun. So instead, I was excited for all of the community events this time around and the chance to reconnect with old friends or meet people who I only knew digitally. Simply put: last year was about Kinda Funny. This year was about Kinda Family. So why do I still rank last year higher?
Because without last year's event, none of this other stuff would have happened. Meeting people like Sean Pitts last year taught me the importance of paying an opportunity forward. He didn't have to invite me to his IGN tour with Jared. But he did so any chance I have to expose people in this community to a good time, I should do that. Meeting people like Alex O'Neill last year inspired me to write again and launch this very site. Meeting people like Nikki Powell meant that I'd have people to talk to when I went back a month later for the IGN House Party. Meeting people like Barrett Courtney meant I would have a local friend to point out the best places to go in the city for PlayStation Experience. And it gave me someone to pave the way for me to someday try my hand at Let's Plays and other video/audio content. Without meeting people like Patrick Ryan last year, I wouldn't have had the faith that I could talk to someone I'd never met for hours on end about anything and everything.
Without last year, it's possible I wouldn't have been pulled in a million wonderful directions to have conversations with people like Ryan Othman and his fiance Emily about their first experience with the community at a live event, Ryan Santille and his girlfriend Emily about Ryan's position as Tim's number one fan and how amazing it has been meeting him, Patrick Schweigert about theatre in Atlanta, Tyler Hall and Moises Taveras about possibly forgetting their names at all of the future events they were now dying to be a part of but trying my hardest not to so I worked them in to this article.
Kinda Funny Live 2 was amazing in every possible way. But the original molded me into the "pillar of the community" I strive to be.