Friday, October 19, 2007

Glad to Meetcha

I've been active in online communities for many years, participating in email listservs until I discovered online discussion boards 7 years ago, and began blogging 3 years ago.

Lots of people from my online communities meet up from time to time. I've not been really into that. At national conventions and local meetings, I never made the effort to introduce myself to online personas from my listserv days. I attended exactly one bulletin board meet up ever (with two other women at a local coffee shop mid afternoon, a very low-key affair). And I haven't sought out many blogger interactions, either.

I have no idea why. I'm certainly not one of those people who thinks that online friendships aren't real; I know better than that. And I present myself as honestly as I can in my writing, but it's still a big leap to go from considered words on a screen to face-to-face interaction.

I've been reading Moreena, from Falling Down is Also a Gift, and now, The Wait and the Wonder. And, as is the way with these online things, I felt like I really knew her. I really cared. Even in that odd, one-sided sort of way that online relationships (and celebrity watching, and book reading, etc.) can foster. But if one of your friends were really sick, you'd bring over a casserole, right?

While Annika was in the hospital in Chicago a couple of years ago, I was in Chicagoland too, visiting family. So I put together a care package for Moreena - lots of people were sending things to Annika, but I've briefly been a PICU mom, and I figured that Moreena could use a few things for herself too - and took it up to Kohl's House.

Annika was very very sick, and Moreena didn't really have the time or inclination to pop over to a local coffee shop and gossip with me for hours. That was absolutely OK with me; I'd made the terrifying leap; I'd initiated a meet-up; I'd moved from thought into action.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Moreena saying that they were coming down to St. Louis for a quick weekend visit. Was I interested in meeting up?

I was. Quick thrill of fear.

We went to Grant's Farm, and I wish I could say that it was perfect: a lovely fall day, the girls immediately bonded as tightly as if they'd been born conjoined quadruplets, the parents relaxing, laughing, and chatting together while sipping cider through a straw.

Not quite. It was really really really hot that day. And I'm a lot fatter than I like to be for leaving the house, let alone meeting new people. And Ellie was not fully potty trained. Which means that I was in a constant state of anxiety and pants-watching. Both of my girls were sleepy and a little cranky. There wasn't much opportunity for actual adult conversation. I'd pulled two all-nighters that week with sleepless Ada. And I was plagued by self doubt: I'd chosen the wrong activity! Is anyone having fun?

But I'm glad that we did it. It will be easier to do it again next time. And I really do hope that there is a next time: I've already got ideas for things to do and places to eat. After all, planning things to do with other people is a lot easier once you get to know them a little. Like, in person.

Paul, Ellie, Ada

Anni, Frankie, Ellie (who's not really as short as she looks in this odd shot)


Moreena said...

OK, so there was no cider-sipping, but milkshakes are an awfully good substitute.

I tend to be less than relaxed when I meet anyone other than at their house, or at my own. It's just the whole kids out in public thing. Plus, we had had our own rough night at the hotel, so we were all tired, too.

We should certainly do it again, but someplace lower key, if you'd like, too. Also, didn't we come to Grant's Farm by *mutual* agreement? Actually, I liked that it wasn't so incredibly huge that we felt like we needed to keep going and going long past the point where the kids could hold it together.

OK, already too long for a comment. Just to say, "Thanks for taking the leap! We loved meeting you all!"

Sarahlynn said...

Likewise! And Ellie is still talking about bottle feeding those goats, nearly every day since.

Seasonal said...

How fun! Moreena is the way I found your blog, so nice to know you two hooked up. :)

Sarahlynn said...

How funny that my neighbor found me through someone who lives a couple hundred miles north of here!

Seasonal said...

I know! Small world, isn't it? :) Now we should meet up sometime, we don't have the excuse of hundreds of miles!

Sarahlynn said...

We really should. I've wondered why we haven't, and then I remembered who I am. : )

Maybe a Magic House meet-up sometime?

Seasonal said... a lot of ways I'm the same way! I'm being weird about the Magic House right now, I'm boycotting it until they've finished the new addition. I am tired of the state of disrepair of so many of the exhibits! I let my membership lapse with the intention of picking it up again once the addition is complete. Grumble. I would, however, love to meet up sometime...if I bring my boy, I'll never get a chance to get a word in edge wise with you! :)

Sarahlynn said...

You're so right about The Magic House. It doesn't seem to bother Ellie, but everytime we're there, I wonder, "It would kill you to add a little more sand to the sand table?" Many of the exhibits I don't think have been updated - or refurbished - since I was a kid. I hope they're planning a remodel of the current facilities when the new building opens.

The thing with the kids is that they're my security blanket. Surely I won't know what to say without them there? Or I won't have a sweet-smelling head to hide behind? A frequent need for potty breaks to pull me away if I'm feeling uncomfortable? Perhaps I'm still in jr. high. :)

BreadCo for lunch with just the "babies?"

Seasonal said...

Oh I know the need for the security blanket, trust me :)

I even sent the MH an email asking if they were refurbishing the exhibits with the new addition, and the response I got was full of platitudes, and I assume that means "no, we're fine with how they are". I agree, not enough sand in the table. The magnet room could be tweaked to be more interesting. The grocery store is always a disaster. The 'baby' area, oh please!

I didn't know how disappointing it was until we went to the children's museum in Nebraska, that one is AMAZING. It's huge, they have awesome exhibits that look well tended, the kids aren't on top of each other all the time. Ours, I have no idea how it makes the 'top museums' list at all.

Lunch at BreadCo would be lovely. Hopefully we don't both get shy and awkward and don't say anything! :)