san francisco bridge

A Little Ditty About Meeting My First Blogger in San Francisco

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.

san francisco travel

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.

salesforce dreamforce

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.

dreamforce 2016

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.

yoga in hotel

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.

oakland bay bridge

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.

portland reindeer sign

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?”

dreamforce fun

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.

blogging friends

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.

pier 39

Have you ever met a blogger in real life? If not, would you if you had the chance?

53 thoughts on “A Little Ditty About Meeting My First Blogger in San Francisco

  1. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Oh, dahlink! It was such a pleasure to meet you! Sorry I put you on the spot with the question about Dreamforce. 😀 You are so NOT the techy culture. But we all need to make a living, don’t we? You forgot to mention the sliver of vermillion moon slipping into the sea on the ride home. A sight I will never forget. I consider it good omen for our meeting, for our futures, for our lives. Write on, babe!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Jilanne doll…it was so lovely to meet you. Haha, I thought the Dreamforce question was totally valid. I felt like a conference tourist. 😉

      I did forget the moon! A good omen, indeed. Muah!

  2. eden baylee says:

    What a super adventure Britt! I’ve met bloggers, writers, and twitter/FB friends this way as well. I love how the Internet has opened the door for connecting people. It’s totally legit, and I trust someone who writes well, so the medium is perfect for me.

    I’d rather meet this way than at a bar. There is much more time spent online getting to know each other, certainly to the point of feeling safe and comfortable, whether you ever get to meet in person or not.

    eden

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Totally! I trust other writers too, and I always get along with them. It takes a certain kind of human to be able to write. Yeah, bars can be funny. Even though it seems like a happy place, there’s often a lot of other stuff beneath the surface. The vibe definitely isn’t the same as our lovely blogging environment. xo

  3. Ally Bean says:

    Your story is delightful. I’m happy that you had a happy meeting. I have a story about meeting another blogger, by accident, that turned out differently! Funny how things work out.

  4. Letizia says:

    How lovely that the two of you got a chance to meet up. I met a fellow blogger in NYC last year. You’re right, there’s an instant familiarity after the years of commenting on each other’s blogs. We started chatting as if in mid-conversation.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      It was awesome, Letizia! Yeah, definitely a mid-conversation sort of thing, which I’m sorry to say that is NOT the case with other people I see in real life. Blogging creates a pretty powerful bond though!

      You’re on my list, babe. Hopefully I can meet up with you in Bend if you’re still coming out.

  5. joey says:

    Wonderful! Yes, I have, several, and I’d like to meet more 🙂
    Even if it’s just to join them in a wait for a connecting flight, even if it’s barely long enough to enjoy a cuppa, it’s wonderful to meet people you already like!

  6. Audrey Kalman says:

    Great story. I’d like to meet a few of my online writing friends. Let me know if you’re ever back in SF! (Though I think we need to have a few more years of exchanges before we qualify as pen pals…)

  7. Roy McCarthy says:

    Ah, nice story Britt. I do like how you’re able to live for the moment and focus on fleeting pleasure like meeting Jilanne, locking on to random music etc. in the midst of a hectic life. Maybe your writing discipline helps this re-focus.

    I was delighted when Naomi Baltuck from ‘Writing Between the Lines’ dropped into Jersey with her sister Constance a couple of years ago. They were just so taken with everything that it was an absolute pleasure.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Roy, I’m surrounded by so much business at this point in my life. It’s providing plenty of stability, which is important for my creative energy, but I am always making a valiant effort to hang onto life’s simple pleasures. Trying not to lose myself in the hustle and bustle—if I go down that path, it’s no good.

      Naomi, yes! She’s great. I remember that visit too…very cool!

  8. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    Meeting a fellow blogger in real life is such an amazing moment! I did too 3 years ago with 3 different bloggers: Pam from The Life Bus, when I was in Denver; Jeff from Jeff Sinon Photography, when I was in New Hampshire; and Jenna & Micah from Wander the Map, when I was in Miami. Hiking with the first 2, diner with the last 2. Fun! But never enough when you know you sure will get on so well.

    I sure hope you and I will have that moment too. Here or there or somewhere new. It’ll be so much fun!

    Cheers to beautiful meetings with great people!
    xoxoxox

  9. danniehill says:

    There are a few people I would go out of my way to meet that I have become friends with and never met face to face. And roaming around Frisco is a great place to meet.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Same here, Dannie! I don’t think I’ll ever make a big announcement when I’m going somewhere to see which bloggers live in a place, but selecting a few close buddies to have coffee with is a good way to go.

      It was neat to have my first meet-up in San Francisco. Especially on such a magical night!

  10. Carrie Rubin says:

    Very nice that you got to meet Jilanne. And in such a great city too. I love San Francisco! I need to get back there again. It’s such a wonderfully walkable city with lots to see. Did you walk down the winding Lombard Street? So pretty.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Jilanne’s a babe, so it was great! Yes, San Francisco is neat—and there is SO much to explore. Obviously with the conference happening, it was an entirely different experience from last year when Mr. H and I went for our anniversary with the infamous hair.

      Didn’t do Lombard Street this time, because I saw it last year. Too much action happening, but I managed to squeeze in a little fun. Cut to…me dragging my coworker to go see the sea lions and us barely making our flight home!

  11. Sheila says:

    That’s so great that the two of you were able to meet! This is such a nice story because it shows what happens when you make that tiny extra effort to connect with someone. I love the thought of all of us as pen pals. Love the music and pictures too! San Francisco is another one of those magical places and it sounds like you found that magic while you were there.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Sheila doll, it was SO great! Yeah, I’ve been trying to make more efforts to connect with people in general these past few months. Life’s too short and we get caught up in work—and as writers, in our creative world.

      I have a close friend here that is moving to Australia and I was like…let’s go have a girl’s weekend! We went to the coast together and hung out at a spa. Seems like we never get to see each other, even though we’re only a few minutes away. It was nice to have that dedicated time together.

      San Francisco is a really awesome city. LA and Chicago are still my top big cities in the US though! 😉

      • Sheila says:

        It must have been great to do a weekend like that – too bad she’s moving to Australia! But then maybe you’ll get to go out and visit. That’s funny that LA and Chicago are your favorites – I think those are the two that scare me the most! I loved your LA post though – that almost convinced me to go. 🙂

  12. diannegray says:

    What a great post and it must have been super exciting meeting Jilanne. I’ve never met another blogger (probably because I live too far away from you all), but one day….

  13. Gallivanta says:

    So glad you met! I have had meet ups with 3 bloggers. When I first told my children I was going to invite a blogger to stay at my house, they thought I had lost the plot. But having a blogger and his wife (from Texas) stay for a couple of days was one of the highlights of my year. And, of course, if you can find a way to get here, the guest bedroom is all yours. 🙂

  14. Sean P Carlin says:

    Britt,

    I was in New England this past May (I currently live in Los Angeles), passing through an area where a fellow blogger with whom I’d become friendly lives. I sent him a note a few weeks beforehand and asked if he wanted to meet up, and we had a chance to meet face-to-face at a local Panera for a couple of hours. It was the first time I’d ever met a “blogosphere friend,” and it was a great experience to put a face — and a personality — to a name/avatar. It’s something we should all try to do more often.

    Sean

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Sounds very awesome, Sean! Sometimes we don’t even know where people live unless they talk about it on their blog. Usually if you’ve been friends or following someone for years, you learn the general region. So, I’m afraid I have been to a couple of places I could have met bloggers but didn’t because I didn’t know they were there. 😦

      Ah, well. Guess the meeting will happen if the timing is right! 😉

  15. Kate Johnston says:

    I’m so jelly! Jilanne is da bomb! 🙂 I would be over the moon to meet another blogger, so yes, if given the chance, I’d be there. I agree with you about us all being like pen pals, and I think we should take the opportunity to meet each other, even if it does require skipping U2. That’s what friendship is all about. 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Jilanne is totally da bomb! 🙂

      I always giggle about the pen pal thing, but it’s totally true. So neat to have these wonderful connections all over the world. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy even on the craziest days. xo

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yeah, this uber driver was so neat. If I had been heading to a business function, I might have skipped it just to keep driving around the city listening to jazz with Dwight.

      Thank you, sweet Kath. Right back at ya, babe! (not the psycho perv part, the word compliments) 🙂

  16. Bun Karyudo says:

    It’s nice that you took the opportunity to meet your blogging buddy in person. I’m glad Jilanne turned out to be just as great as you imagined. Incidentally, I think your post’s third photograph is such a wonderful demonstration of the amazing portability of the MacBook Air. I’ve found it the easiest thing in the world to take mine about with me anywhere–just as long as I remember to hire the crane and the truck, of course.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      It was such an awesome experience to meet a long-time virtual friend! Haha, on the MacBook. I feel like this is a golden opportunity for writers with their marketing…just bring a giant laptop with you and a stack of books to sell.

      • Bun Karyudo says:

        I’ve read a few other accounts of bloggers who have met each other after a couple of years. They’ve pretty much all been very positive experiences. Of course, if there are occasional negative ones, I doubt anybody feels much like writing about them.

  17. Browsing the Atlas says:

    I met several travel bloggers that I connect with at a Travel Bloggers Conference in Dublin. It was somewhat strange for me (a textbook introvert) because it’s easier for me to connect through writing than unexpectedly, face-to-face. But it was nice to meet in person and discover that those bloggers I admire virtually are equally as admirable in person.

    Be forewarned: when i travel to Portland, I’m going to let you know. 🙂

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