Anticipation is a funny thing. It can make you giddy with excitement one day and paralyzed with fear the next. This single emotion can, on the one hand, leave us wishing we could roll over and hibernate ‘til spring, and on the other, feel so stoked with enthusiasm that we practically run out of our shoes to start the day.
Anticipation of the unknown has always been one of my favorite varieties. I think it sort of defines our outlook on life. Personally I like to use it as an attitude check. Typically I prefer to think of myself as a glass-is-half-full kind of guy. But sometimes I get away from that just like anyone else. Monitoring my attitude when faced with an unknown or new circumstance is the best way I know to either see that I’m on track, or not.
Mind you, I’m never gonna ever beat myself up over not looking forward to April 15th, for dreading a visit to the dentist, or for that innate masculine fear associated with the magic words, “turn your head and cough.” These are known commodities of uncomfortable circumstance, and I’m more than okay with relegating things of that nature to the scrap pile of necessary evils in my life.
But how do I react in other situations, such as the occasion of meeting someone face-to-face for the first time — such as a fellow blogger? A meeting that doesn’t necessarily have to happen. Do I look forward to and embrace such a circumstance, or is it my inclination to play it safe, keeping them at arm’s length as it were?
Aww hell, who am I kidding? I LIVE for this stuff!
But believe it or not, I actually do have these thoughts of trepidation, but they usually don’t last very long. And I can honestly say that during the time I’ve been blogging, there really aren’t too many cyber-neighbors I’ve encountered whom I wouldn’t be intrigued to meet in real life. And in my increasingly frequent visits to SoCal over the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of broadening my social calendar to include both real-time and online friends.
In 2004, I met the ever-popular Mayor of Blogsville, Michael, for the first time. In the ensuing months, Mike and I have become pretty good friends. So now a trip to SoCal now pretty much assumes at least one side-visit to The People’s Republic of Santa Monica.
However this time, no offense to Mikey, I was hoping to get a little more mileage out of my West Coast Blogger-Meet opportunity. I had learned that Aimee, would be coming down from the Bay Area that same week to see her sister, who lives near Santa Barbara. Not only that, but Inanna, whom I’d met months earlier via her own ramblin’ Blogger travels, would be in town that week as well.
A Blogger Summit! Coolness.
We decided it would be easiest for everyone involved if we met up in Santa Barbara; not exactly a short jaunt for me, coming from Orange County, but hey — my rental car had unlimited mileage, right?
Seriously though, Santa Barbara has always been one of my favorite California communities. As far as “beach” cities go it has a vibe and a charm all of its own. It’s always been one of Michelle and my favorite places to hang. Michelle attended college at UC Santa Barbara; we even spent our wedding night there.
I was happy to make it our meeting place.
Before I go any further, I need to pause here to say thank you to someone. Earlier in this series I somewhat cryptically made reference to this next part of this story in a comment. But now I’d like to give special thanks to the person who actually made it possible for me to make this series much more exhaustively detailed than it ever would have been otherwise.
Sh’yeah, I know…quick…somebody get a rope.
About a month before the trip, I e-mailed Aimee, to touch base and synchronize schedules in happy anticipation of meeting her for the first time. We exchanged phone numbers so that we could contact each other in case there were any changes in our respective plans, particularly after we’d left home and would no longer have easy access to e-mail.
As I recall, it was August 9th, a few days before I left for California. I was going down the list of people I’d be seeing while on the trip, again to touch base one more time.
I was at work, so I ducked into an unoccupied conference room to make the call to Aimee. Unfortunately the cubes have ears in my office and last thing I wanted was for anyone to think I was making plans to rendezvous with some strange woman in California that I’d met on the Internet.
Oh…wait…*GAH* Well, you know what I mean!
Anyway, I was making small talk with Aimee; you know — “Howya doin’…whatcha writing about…how’s life?” — and so on. I was at that time smack dab in the middle of my Long Strange Trip series, and in all honesty, pretty close to being burned out on the heaviness of the subject matter. I was really struggling with the story at that point. It had grown from a tribute to my marriage into a full-blown autobiography and commentary on my life (and that was before I even started talking about the really personal stuff.
Add in the additional pressure of having just gotten back two weeks earlier from another mini-vacation, with which I had been involved off and on for the previous six months; planning and coordinating a golf outing in Reston, VA for more than twenty people. I hadn’t written anything for a month and really felt bad about it.
So I mentioned that (in not so many words) to Aimee while we were talking, adding that I was even more frustrated over the fact that now I was going to be away for an additional eight days — with no computer — and again, no blog production. I mentioned that really wished I owned a laptop so that I could write at least something while I was on the road.
“You don’t own a laptop?” she asked, quizzically.
“Nope.” I replied. “Never needed one for work, and I build my own desktop PCs. But I do plan on buying one someday, just for situations like this; to take on the road, especially now that writing has become such a big part of my life.”
“Hmmm,” she said.
“What do you mean, ‘hmmm?’” I inquired.
“What do you use?” Aimee asked.
“Um…whadaya mean? Use how?” I had no idea what she was referring to.
“Mac or PC — your computer — is it Mac or Windows?” she clarified.
“Wol…Windows…Why do you ask?” I was still completely clueless.
“Well, how ‘bout I just give you a laptop? I have one of each that I don’t use at all. Do you think you’d be able to write more often then?” she said with a smile in her voice.
Um…YEAHHUH! Yes, I most definitely could! But c’mon, Aimee, are you serious? Why would you do that? Are you sure?” I said, looking around the conference room assuming there must be a Candid Camera hidden somewhere. I couldn’t believe such an offer.
“Hey, they’re old ones I had from my last job. They never asked for ‘em back, and they’re just sitting around here taking up space. If you want one, it’s yours,” she said. I couldn’t believe my ears.
I continued to profusely thank Aimee for her generosity.
As it turned out, I used that laptop she would later so graciously gift me with all week long, each night typing out detailed outlines of the day’s activities. Chances are I wouldn’t have recalled with half the clarity, the incredibly busy week that I enjoyed. Thanks again, Aims!We settled on a few more general details, deciding that Sunday would be the day we’d meet up, presumably at a restaurant. But I still needed to get buy-in from Mike and Inanna, so I told her I would do so and get back in touch with her, if not before I left, then as soon as I hit town.
It was time for me to get back to work, so we signed off; we’d talk again soon.
As I placed the cell phone back into my pocket, I once again thought of that wonderfully thoughtful gift Aimee had sprung upon me. I smiled, and just before opening the door to exit the windowless conference room, I stopped, and danced a little jig.
Candid Cameras be damned.
Next: Day Three — Sunday (continued): Santa Barbara Sojourn