The route to conference is a fairly familiar one to me now after two years of attending and it's basically the same route I used to travel to get to university. So when I set out I knew there were going to be several 'points' that could cause me problems and would also be a good indicator to me in my own head depending on how long it took me to hit each point as to how the journey was going. I knew I could get to Manchester alright my main concern however was if I would be able to find the campus when I got there!
Luckly as I didn't have anybody with me this year I didn't get stuck in a traffic jam once. It got really slow in places but I didn't come to a complete stop at all and when I got to Manchester I managed to find the campus with no problems what so ever.
However on that point I must admit it was far more luck then judgement.
Anyway arriving at the site I set abour registering and noticed three immediate changes from last year. Firstly we had meal tickets, secondly rather then those stupid wrist bands we had passes to hang around our necks which displayed our name, ward, and the conference title and theme on the ribbom, and lastly we had ti sign up officially for activities with someone taking out names by computer rather then us just writing our names on sheets of paper on the walls.
After finding my room and dumping my stuff I realised as I had left early to account for traffic, and there was none I had masses of time before the first activity started. This couple with the fact that none of my close friends had come meant I was at a bit of a loose end and I had only been there ten minutes!
I decided that the best use of my time would be to find something to eat as there is no 'meal' on Fridays. So I went out the back of the camous onto the main roads to check out my choices from the local takeaways. After much contemplation (probably too much but there you go) I decided that I would stick with something familiar and headed down to the generic High street resturant ( the brand Engineseer works for) and get myself some food. I also got a free glass too but I digress :-)Heading back to my room I was able to get in a quick nap before the first activity started. It was a wild west evening, with lots of different games. I have to admit it was quite different to what they've done before and it was quite fun.
Time started to tick by and the hall began to gradually fill up with more and more YSA. I was starting to get nervous at this point as I hadn't seen a familiar face at all. I knew a couple of people from the other end of the stake but they hadn't arrived which was quite unlike them. I was getting worried I might have no one to talk to at all!
Strangely enough after this however a lad suddenly stopped me in the corridor with the line
" We've met before but you won't remember me" then he paused and said nothing else which lead me to wonder what the heck he was expecting me to say with an opening line like that. He then continued " I used to date R McR. Least said about that" and he made a cutting motion across his neck " Oh you work for that GW things don't cha?" I nodded " Oh good, well I won't tell any girls what you do for a living. Wouldn't want to destroy what little chances you may have would we? See you later" and with that he disappeared up the corridor still leaving me none the wiser as to who he was, but starting to see probably why I had forgotten him.
Finally some friendly faces arrived but far fewer then I was expecting. ( four girls, 1 lad) and they all had exteneded groups of friends anyway so disappeared very quickly. Leaving me to the realisation that as I didn't know anybody from outside of the stake and the people I did know a bit had their own friends to hang out with I might be in for lonely weekend.
I headed back to my room briefly at this point to swallow of a couple of painkillers as I hurt my shoulder. I almost decided to stay that but after having a frank exchange with mysef I realised that if this weekend was going to be any fun at all I had to get back out there and throw myself into things otherwise I would really be on my own all weekend.
I got back to the hall in time to see the end of the line dancing which was a incredibily surreal sight I have to admit especially as they were dancing to 'modern music' which did make me wonder just how strong those painkillers were and if I had started hallucinating. However I continued to give it a try and kept moving around the hall joining in the activities and trying to make the most of things. even if the hotdogs they were serving were somewhat cold.
The western dance dissolved into a 'regular' one with rather loud music which did make me look round to see if Elder Johnson was around, but I found out from someone he wasn't coming this year which was a surprise.
A guy passed me and looked at my name tag. He suddenly stopped and said
" Are you French?
" Umm no"
At which point the girl with him, ( who was rather nice) said " Shame, I'm looking for a Frenchman" and walked off, leaving me to curse the fact that the one time learning French might have come in handy had come years after I had forgotten it.
The dance ended at 11pm followed by a devotional where we all had to sit on the floor of the sports hall which meant it felt less like a devotional and more like a school assembly.
After it had ended I decided to get an early night as I didn't know anyone around and now was not the time to start trying to talk to people. I headed back to my room to realise that once again I had forgotten to bring a extra pillow.
I felt that the next day could only go onwards and upwards