To cement a new friendship, especially between foreigners or persons of a different social world, a spark with which both were secretly charged must fly from person to person, and cut across the accidents of place and time.
~ Cornelia Otis Skinner, The Ape in Me, 1959
BlogHer. That annual get-together where bloggers from across the nation meet and greet one another, swap cards, and drink a lot.
It swung through my neck of the woods this past year and so I considered going. Only no one told me you had to register two years in advance. And spend lots of money. And drink a lot. So out of protest, I stayed home. Listened from a distance. Probably what I would have done had I actually been there, being a wallflower of sorts.
I just don’t do crowds. Much more my style is the informal rendezvous, somewhat haphazardly planned, with no fanfare and a very short agenda:
Meet up. Chat. Go home.
Ed and I had been planning just such an encounter, and we managed to pull it off Christmas week last year in Dayton, Ohio. His five kids, my four kids, some tagalong relatives, and an Air Force Museum seemed like the right amount of chaos for a lovely and lively time.
Headcount: Seventeen people, the majority under three feet tall. Did I say I’m not much of a crowd person? Ignore that part.
Ed and I met in the blogosphere because we both have daughters named Zoe. Zoë in his case. Mine has no umlaut. These two young ladies are only a month apart, and they hit it off like long-lost sisters reuniting over coffee. Nigh inseparable they were. The chatted about girl stuff and might have even noticed a plane or two hanging around.
That, my friends, is an SR-71 Blackbird. Daisyfae? She likes her some Blackbird. She saw it sitting there, all black and impressive in the hangar, and raised her arms in the air and exclaimed, “My God! Look at it! It’s like sex in the sky!” I interrupted her reverie for a picture . . .
Ed looked happy to be there for the most part . . .
. . . despite the fact that he’d spent the night before tending to his very sick child, wallowing in the sick that naturally spread his way as the morning progressed. Tucked in his back pocket is a map of the museum with all the restrooms highlighted in bright yellow. He’s a trooper, that Ed. He and his clan ended up leaving early so he could go home and pass out on the couch, curled up in a fetal position. We’ve agreed the next meet-up will be in a park. Lots of fresh air and plenty of places to hurl should the need arise.
After a quick tour through the exhibit on rockets and space travel, Daisyfae and I decided to pack up the remainder of the party and retire to the local Bob Evans for some lunch before heading home. I made a gift of some homemade Chex mix and, being the more stubborn of the two of us, she insisted on picking up the check. Being the least stubborn of the two of us, I let her. But next time, girlfriend? I’m buying.
Well, needless to say, I found myself hooked on meeting blogging friends. And it just so happened that my wife and I planned on taking the family to Minnesota to spend a week after Christmas. And pray tell what city should the road lead us through on our way to Points Northwest?
The thoroughly-cheesified Home of Maggie (Okay, Fine, Dammit), and a hop, skip, and a jump from Erika (Be Gay About It). After much emailing back and forth, trying to pick a time and a place to pull in for a pit stop, it was Erika’s wife Jenn who came up with Rocky Rococo’s, a pizza joint complete with a game room, comfy leather seats, and bottomless pitchers of pop. Or is it soda in Wisconsin? Regardless, it was perfect.
These are two of my blogging heroes. And yet meeting them felt completely . . . normal. Want to see my favorite picture?
Erika recently broadened her site to include a section titled BGAI Together, “a grassroots storytelling project where LGBTQ persons and their allies unite to counter adversity with positive stories of love and affirmation.” My daughter helped her design the badge for the site (you’ll find it in my sidebar, over there on the left) and here they are meeting for the first time. Notice how Erika, who is much taller than I ever imagined, gets down to Aryn’s level. Doesn’t stand over her, but instead allows Aryn to shine.
Erika’s heart is large, my friends. And meeting her in real life, hugging her neck, listening to her laugh, and sharing in her joy as she told the story of her and Jenn’s Christmas miracle, made this mid-trip rest stop a miracle all its own.
She also made me a “stud tape,” a two-disc set of some of her favorite music. It was the soundtrack for our trip, and I am now a huge fan of Band of Horses . . .
And then there’s Maggie.
We left Minnesota on the morning of January 1st and planned to drive straight through. But, as you might have guessed, I have become a fan of sidetracking. I tweeted that I might be available for dinner, and Maggie wasted no time in inviting us over for ham sandwiches.
Only Maggie lives in . . . how did Sarah put it . . . oh yeah!
That’s somewhere along Country Road Death, as my kids now call that meandering road leading to her back porch. They also refer to her as Maggie in the Middle of Nowhere.
GPS be damned, we found it!
The kids romped and played and colored pictures. Ty impressed Maggie’s husband with his Rock Band skills. And Maggie’s husband laughed at me when I shed my coat and revealed my IPFW sweatshirt. Apparently they’ve experienced the suck that is IPFW Mastodon basketball.
We sat and talked for a long time. About blogging. About writing. About iPhones. And about ham. And then . . . glory of glories! I made it past the outer court and found myself worshipping in the inner sanctum.
Where this . . .
. . . begat this!
Maggie and I laughed until we cried. And then, my head, tummy, and heart full to bursting, I drove the clan home.
Notice my hat? That’s an SR-71 Blackbird.
Notice my Unibrow? Yeah, it’s back. And sexier than evah!
This is my first post in exactly one month. It was a planned hiatus. A chance to recalibrate my brain and settle a few things that needed settling.
While I was away, I missed you, dear Cheek Tweaker.
We might have crossed paths on Twitter or Facebook, but nothing compares to the interaction that happens here. Or over there, on your blog.
Meeting these friends in real life made this place so much more special for me. For here, because of this, across the accidents of time and space, I have found a few friends. And I am better for them . . .
Oh! Before you go . . .
Did I tell you about the newborn in our house? NO?! Well, you’re in for a treat . . .