When you work on the Internet you know your coworker only as words on the screen. I had a sense of her voice, just as I would a character voice in a novel, but I only see her, encounter her is when I step up to the computer. The space between us is the great divide. The things that connect us, I can only imagine, ones and zeros, wires and electrical impulses, links and keyboard clicking, our fingers, the delay and the pause. The words, Heather is typing. The emoticons and the lols.
Heather was coming to Chicago. Which in my mind was a halfway point. But six hours on my own is a long way to drive. It was never like it was really going to happen. I hemmed and hawed and tried to imagine going there all by myself. I sort of got a hotel room. I sort of got coverage for the kids. And then like magic my sister and her finance were talking, his band, Communist Daughter (check them out! They may be your new favorite band!) had a show, and my sister wasn’t going to go alone. Their first show in Chicago, what are the chances it is the same week that H. is there? A message from the blogging gods.
The first barrier breached was texting. Somehow her words magically appearing in my phone made my heart leap.
A lot was going to have to come together for this to work. She didn’t have a car. Neither of us knew the city. She had several relatives she was coordinating with. We only really had a band, a bar and a time to work with. Communist Daughter , The Whistler, 8pm.
We started texting Saturday Night: “Barbeque plans changed due to rain. At the movies.” “Still driving. ETA 2hours.” “If I get dropped off, can you give me a ride back?” “We’ll park at our hotel and take the ‘L’. Do you want to sleep over?” “Just finishing up dinner. I’ll text when I’m on my way. Is that really okay?” “Absolutely! Eating at the restaurant next door to the club.” “I’m Here!!!” “Where!!” (40 messages in total!)
So Heather IRL! You want to know? She is much like she is on line. Confident, clear, precise, interested, interesting. But here are the things that I couldn’t have known: she laughs a lot! She looks just like her daughter (I should have known that, but somehow it was so striking to me irl. I have probably seen more pictures of her daughter than of her!). She is so brave (aren’t we all to be doing this writing and blogging thing?), but she is brave IN PERSON. She came to a bar filled with strangers in a strange city and came back to our place where we stayed up late and giggled while we painted toenails and braided hair and talked about the cute boys at the show!
And me, I was so nervous to be talking out loud, I kept using my hands until they were flying all over the place, blabbering and blabbering. But it was okay, she was nice, and apparently my voice is huskier in real life. So don’t be thinking I am a high pitched screecher just ‘caus I type that way. It is just that my hands are flapping around nervously!
Okay, and this is something else, people in Chicago yell. We got yelled at a lot for doing apparently strange things in that strange city. (I think I shouldn’t take it personally. But just know that if anyone yells at you in Minneapolis, they probably really mean it and you should stop whatever you are doing. But you won’t get yelled at here.) But one of the strange things was trying to approach the Bean to take our pictures there (closed at night apparently). So alas I have no proof. Except for the necklace she and Jon gave me for my birthday(last may!!). Which fortuitously, in the yoga studio steam today came apart and I had an inspiration for a few letters that belong beneath the glass (they are backwards in the photo).
This was very special experience. I loved every minute of it, no matter that people yelled or the vlog never happened, and the Bean went unvisited (I got there earlier in the day, but it wasn’t the same w/out H.) and other untoward events. It still made this cubicle across the country so much homier and now there is an actual voice and big eyes and an actual laugh to put with the lol and words on the screen!
Can’t wait for practice room IRL, when we can ALL be together!