About two years ago I made a wish that I hadn’t had a chance to fulfill. The wish was this: If I’m ever in the same place as another blogger I know, I’m going to meet them face to face.
What was it…ten years ago that meeting someone from the internet was batshit crazy? The possibility of meeting some psycho perv was a real threat. Now, it’s totally legit to meet up.
I like to think of my good blogger friends as pen pals. Remember those? A pen pal was someone you talked to like nobody else in your life. The distance and anonymity of it all made it a safe space to share true pieces of yourself.
Well, finally it happened. I met my first blogger.
I was at Dreamforce, one of the biggest user conferences in the country. It was my first time, a strange thing to say being that I’ve been immersed in the B2B marketing world for almost three years. Finally, I had a company that sent me to witness the insanity firsthand.
It’s funny because I remember talking about Dreamforce with one of my close blogger friends who lives in San Francisco around this time last year. The chaos was amplified for her—just as it is for everyone living in a city already bursting with people—when nearly 200,000 businesspeople invade the streets.
I sent an email to my girl, Jilanne Hoffman, with a subject line she couldn’t refuse…I’m in San Francisco! Coordinating was challenging between our hectic schedules, but we made it work.
And by day three of the conference, I was over all things business. It was the focus from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep at night. At least at home there is some down time, but at a conference like Dreamforce, you’re always on.
I was also over crowds. I’m an honorary extrovert, meaning I worked hard to become one in order to survive the real world. It was clear every afternoon when I dropped everything to escape to my hotel for yoga and some breathing room.
In other words, I was more than ready to feel like me again. To hang out with a friend and talk about writing and life in a quiet residential neighborhood where people shopped for groceries on a Wednesday night, instead of cramming into a U2 concert.
Yes, I skipped U2 at Dreamforce to go have chamomile tea with a friend. I told you so…introvert incognito.
What’s crazy is on my way to see Jilanne, I had some serious deja vu in the Uber.
Some of you may recall a post I wrote in the spring last year called 1am in a Cab on a School Night. Strangely, it was one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written on this blog.
This time I was in an Uber instead of a taxi, on a clear San Francisco night instead of a rainy Portland one. I was also in a very different emotional state—last year I was saying goodbye to a wild piece of me, and this year I think was missing that wild piece of me.
But the conversation and soundtrack were just as good. I’ll call the Uber driver what he was…a cool cat named Dwight. He was a native San Franciscan, with the knowledge of the city prevalent in his eyes. And, he had great taste in music.
A song started playing as we began our journey away from the madness of Union Square toward the residential sanctuary of Potrero Hill. He seemed surprised when I wanted to talk beyond the formalities.
I asked: “What song is this?”
Dwight raised his eyebrows: “You like this kind of music, Miss?”
“Love. I love jazz.”
“Well, alright.” He laughed. “It’s John Coltrane. Called Equinox. I always listen to it after a long day. It’s the perfect song because of its cool expansive qualities.”
I smiled. Cool and expansive. That’s all I wanted to feel that night after a long day.
I’ll admit I was a little nervous as I waltzed into a Whole Foods cafe away from the mayhem downtown, and it took me a minute to adjust. I texted Jilanne to let her know I was here, and there she was sitting at a corner table with a glass of wine.
After a welcome hug, I slid into a chair next to Jilanne and it felt like we were chatting in our own real life WordPress comment box. It wasn’t weird, it was comforting actually. Years of virtual conversations meant we already knew each other well enough to skip the small talk—and we only had an hour in our schedules, so we had to make it count.
But I still love the first question Jilanne asked me, her eyes wide: “So what the heck are you doing at Dreamforce?”
I laughed. It was a fair question. When we know each other as bloggers, we usually don’t know life’s logistics, like occupations. But honestly in that moment, I didn’t know why I was at the conference.
It definitely seemed out of place to me then as I was meeting a fellow writer at a cafe on a calm evening. Once I was sitting at that table I had shed the “business suit” and the persona that went with it. I was just a writer again in my flare jeans and blouse that mimics floral curtains from the 1960s.
Anyway I won’t rehash our conversation here now, but I will say that Jilanne is just as I imagined her to be—quirky and lovely. If you want to see what I mean, read her post on The Life Enthusiast Chronicles from last year.
That evening talking with a friend was what I needed to return to myself. I left the cafe and climbed into another Uber to head back to my hotel, feeling cool and expansive.
And I made time to hang out with the sea lions before I hopped on the plane back home.
Have you ever met a blogger in real life? If not, would you if you had the chance?