We gathered together, not quite strangers, but not yet friends. We were single. We were married. We were divorced. We had children. We had no children. We were all writers. Our mutual love of spinning words into tales had initially brought us together online, but on Friday we traded our URLs for an IRL and met each other “live and in person.”
Deborah had flown in from New York to visit her daughter in L.A. The rest of us are California gals and Deborah’s visit was just the impetus we needed to set our plan in motion. Britton busted out her minivan and headed north from Orange County, picking up Rossandra in Laguna Beach, grabbing Deborah off the side of the road in Burbank and heading up the coast where Jessica, Becky and yours truly awaited them at the Harbor Restaurant on the wharf in Santa Barbara.
|L to R: Britton, Becky, Deborah, Jayne, Rossandra, Cabot, Jessica|
A hug can tell you a lot about someone and a stranger walking by us as we greeted each other for the first time would have been forgiven for thinking we’d been separated at birth. Once inside, we were seated at a table overlooking the water where Cabot (that’s him in the photo), our charming and good-humored waiter, attended to our every need and never once called any of us “Ma’am.”
Rossandra, a wildly funny redhead from South Africa, shared stories of her soon-to-be published memoir, which led to a discussion of all the different publishing avenues now available to writers. Lovely Jessica, who has so eloquently written of her seven-year-old daughter’s winning battle against leukemia, thoughtfully brought us all little bags of homemade chocolate chip scones. Becky, whose own voracious spirit of adventure met its match with her marriage to an international photojournalist, recently took some time away from writing about her fascinating life to slow down and enjoy just living it. Britton, the quintessential California blond beauty and a recent convert to the challenges of Five Sentence Fiction, also writes of fulfilling her roles as daughter, mom, and wife while honoring her own needs. And Deborah, amazing Deborah, whose exquisitely-written book of short stories, “Shoes, Hair, Nails,” serves as a writing beacon to the rest of us, was even warmer, funnier and more gracious in person than in print.
Our ongoing, raucous laughter may have driven one or two lest boisterous patrons from surrounding tables, but that was their loss. We could have stayed there for days and still not exhausted the conversation. All too soon our time together was over, but a bond has been formed and future visits promised and looked forward to.
It’s always exciting when people exceed all your expectations. If only my online dating had worked out half as well.
Have you met any online friends In Real Life? Share a story. And if you haven't, what are you waiting for?