So the program for this year's International Congress on Medieval Studies is now available online. For the first time since 1997 (I think), my name is to be found among the 2500 or so presenters (though you find "DeBreeze" in the listings). It's a weird feeling to going back to Kalamazoo. I've been going to conferences all along, of course. I've attended either the SEMA (Southeastern Medieval Association) or TEMA (Texas Medieval Association) conferences almost every year for the past twelve, so it's not like I've been completely outside the community of medieval scholars. But I know that I've missed something as a result of being absent from Kalamazoo for so long. As a friend of mine put it once, Kalamazoo is the one must-do event for an American medievalist each year. So in at least one way, I feel as if I haven't been a full-fledged medievalist for the past decade. It's kinda like I've been on the Junior Varsity team. And probably not a starter even there.
But now I'm going back, though it's to a very different Kalamazoo that I'll be returning. The last time I went, I was still in graduate school, still pretty starstruck by the big names, still very much figuring out what medieval studies were all about, and still unsure about my own place in that world. I was shepherded by my professors, introduced around by them, maybe even fed by them on occasion. But as I looked through the program this morning, I realized that none of my former professors, most of whom are nearing or past retirement age, will be presenting this year (though they may still be attending, of course). A few of my good friends from grad school will be there, some of them shepherding students of their own now. And while I'll be having a great time, no doubt, I'll also be missing my wife and kids. I imagine that I'll be in bed by the time the Saturday night dance gets underway.
Still, I can't wait. I'll spend the next few months dreaming about the book display and planning meet-ups with my friends old and new.
Oh, and at some point I'll need to reread my proposal, so I can remember what my paper is supposed to be about.