I almost didn’t show. Friday night after a full day of NCTE, one inspiring workshop after another, the reality of meeting fellow slicers percolated, as I stepped out into the deepening Anaheim night. My colleague and I had discussed it as we were mapping the day.
She and I remain friends and colleagues despite the country that lies between us now. I have made the short trip from Oregon, she from New Jersey, and NCTE Anaheim is our opportunity to connect, face-to-face. There is nothing like that hug that accompanies a reunion, is there?
Since my move west, destinations and events have become the magnets for friendship. And when I tell her that I have a couple of want-to-dos on my list, she’s game. The planned “Slicer Meet-Up” is one of them. From the start, though, it is our being together again that has taken center stage.
“This is an amazingly supportive community I’ve been blogging with since March 2018. Remember the post I wrote about you during the first March Blogging Challenge?” She nods. She says she’ll go along and check it out. An email chain has let me know who might make it for drinks and possibly dinner. It all feels very casual, manageable…I only know these people through their posts after all. But I do know the power of that shared writing.
“Truly, I’m actually doing this,” I confess as we head to the designated restaurant, “because you’re here with me. If I were alone, I’d probably spend the night reviewing the day and reading. You give me courage.”She understands. I’ve told her so much about this effort to commit to public writing, to publish and work on craft.
“]ust understand, Trish, that I might bail if I feel like it.” She’s actually echoing my thoughts. Then we’re through the door, scanning the room, and finding a long table with some gift bags in the center. “That’s them,” I say and we head over.
Right away she wants to leave, and despite my urging, she does. I absolutely get it. She doesn’t know these folks, and there is community here; she feels like an outsider despite my invitation. I am tentative myself, but the warmth in the smiles and the chatter floating freely from friendly faces convince me to stay.
Melanie has arranged this get-together. Now I am meeting one of the Two Writing Teachers—for real! She invites us to introduce ourselves, tell a bit about our blogging adventure, our lives, whatever we wish. It is affirming to match faces and voices with written lives, snapshots of being.
As the time passes, many of the group leave for other commitments, but I’m hungry—and I truly like these people—so when the dinner option is laid on the table, I take it.
Five diehards remain. We move to a smaller, more secluded round table. And we share. We commiserate. We tell stories. We laugh. It is magical for me. The four people with me are my people!
Thanks, Melanie, and all the Slicers who showed up. I am so glad that I did.