The other day someone posted this and I reflected on it. There is only one place* outside my home that I have felt this, and that is at TBC. The first year I went, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, and when I went I spent most of the time with Kay and Kylei. But it was transformative: I met strangers and talked with them without that awful cloud of wondering if they were going to say something sexist or cissexist or ableist etc. I felt seen in a way that was incredibly validating; people expected to have to get to know me instead of thinking that it is okay to make assumptions based on my appearance. I was deeply terrified of not belonging so I was very cautious and didn't explore much. The next year when I went back, it was with a year of activism behind me, and the newfound realization that I didn't need to be perfect but I did need to give back, so I did. I gave a talk on building intimacy, ran an intimacy practice, and participated in a few panels. That year I felt exhausted but empowered: I could reach out to people, I could interact, I wasn't afraid of rejection. I learned a lot from others during the other sessions but I was at the final stage of falling into depression and all my relationships were going through major shifts so that took center stage. Right now my feelings are mixed. The two people I most associate with TBC are people that I'm exceedingly nervous about seeing. I suppose I should try to get temperatures there (I made the first small effort for that). Also, I really really want Topaz to go with me because I suspect it would be zir first taste of querencia but I don't know if ze will be able to, and I worry that if ze does go I will get caught up in introvert-sitting and won't immerse myself in the experience. But on the other hand, this will be my first time going without hiding or being deeply exhausted, and I can't imagine just how wonderful it could be. I suppose I'm 80% excited and 20% fretful. To feel safe in a place not my house: rare, sacred, necessary.
*I also feel querencia when I am around big trees and away from people, but I can never be sure that unsafe people will not approach, so it is fragile. At TBC even if unsafe people approach, I don't have to be on guard because I am not the only one who will resist oppression and repair a space made unsafe