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For the first time in nine days, I am alone. For nearly a week-and-a-half, I’ve been immersed in the work of producing the Gathering. Every waking moment, I spent in community. And now, I am removed from the work and my friends there — back in the so-called “real world.” My body aches and yearns for my pillow back home, but I’m also sad to leave. It’s a feeling we all experience — simultaneous relief and despair. Bittersweet is the word, but it doesn’t fully capture it.

Producing this event for tens of thousands of high school students took a small army two years to pull off and the result was spectacular. I’m proud of what we did, but what truly affected me wasn’t anything that happened on stage, it was the tremendous group of friends I made behind the scenes.

There is no word in the English language that defines this kind of friendship; the kind forged in the fires of extreme circumstances; the kind that skips superficiality and dives headlong into bonds of family. Together, we moved boxes. We escorted Nobel laureates, rebels and musicians. We screamed over the radio and fell asleep still hearing the reverb of the headsets in our dreams. We improvised. We raced into crisis after crisis, feet pounding the concrete between the office, the bunker, the floor and the bowls of the Superdome. We all got sick of croissant sandwiches. We pulled a dream out of the sky and gave it life. We created something beautiful.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters.

Here in the afterglow, I’m grateful for each and every one of them for laughing at my dumb jokes and supplying an endless stream of high fives. High fives rock.

I don’t know when we’ll all meet again, now that the event that brought us together is firmly in the past tense, but the optimist in me is hopeful that we’re not finished with each other yet.

So, this is for you, Dome Creative. Thanks for being part of my story.

— 30 —

So, I always write something here. I don’t have anything to add other than my Twitter handle: @jonnyeberle. I’m far too tired to say anything witty. Maybe next time.

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