"I was nervous," I confessed, breaking a tortilla chip in half before shrugging. "I was halfway through a meeting this afternoon and wondered why I was so tense. Then I remembered we were meeting tonight."
"Like a blind date," she nodded and I smiled. I'd immediately accepted her invitation when I realized we'd be in the same general vicinity tonight and realized it wasn't all that blind. As the author of my first comment, we've been electronically acquainted for years. "I expected your hair to be lighter," she said, regarding me carefully while I frowned. She's not the first person to note my hair is far darker than imagined and I wondered what I'm doing to present myself as one with lighter hair.
We finished dinner and ended our conversation about work and progress, goals and objectives. It seems we're both rather happy, though I couldn't help thinking she seemed remarkably grown up while I still feel like I'm faking it most of the time. "That happens to me sometimes," I commented, finding common ground again when she took her glasses off for the second time to wipe one of the lenses. "Making it worse rather than better."
Upon her suggestion that we find another place for a drink but lacking a plan that included a second destination, we walked to my car. She waited while I tossed my bag from the passenger seat and glanced behind her. "That's the bag," she noted. "I clicked over when you linked to it."
"I really like it," I noted of the brightly patterned messenger I use for work. "Oh, and I loved your post about shoes - it made me laugh." As we found a place to chat some more, we discussed the balance between function and form when it comes to heels. We also discussed her phone's navigational system compared to the Garmin suctioned to my windshield. And, once we found a coffee shop, we sat outside to sip iced drinks and discussed our blogs.
"It's so hard to find energy," I sighed, torn between missing the frequency and content of her older posts and feeling the same way about myself. "I have stories - posts I'd like to write, thoughts I'd like to process more completely - but I get home and start posts and it sometimes feels so hard."
She said something about wondering about me when she stopped reading. I don't remember the exact comment though I was immediately amused. I tend to delete feeds from Reader when I'm annoyed or bored. As I get older, I find I'm less bothered by being annoying or boring, but smiled when I wondered which had made me slip from her list. Regardless, some people lose and regain my attention as well.
"I miss people, too," I finally said. "And I get this twinge of sadness when I realize that some of them have stopped writing - there's no opportunity to check in and make sure everything's OK. So I can't see stopping but I feel like nothing interesting happens. I go to work and come home. And when I don't write much, I feel like it should at least be good!"
"Does the farewell ritual take long?" I asked curiously after she said there should be one upon arriving back at the original parking lot. "Do I need to turn off the car?"
"Probably," she nodded so I giggled before turning the key and stepping outside. We hugged, exchanged final compliments and she took a picture of our shoes. She'd already granted permission to write about her, though I hadn't planned to bring it up or post anything at all.
Yet, given it's acceptable, I'll note that there's something wonderful about a community that allows one to know (and meet) exceptional people. And she was just as I expected - lovely and genuine, thoughtful and bright. Before I hugged her a second time, she said that she hoped her support, while not always expressed, was understood. And I realized that not only did I feel the same way, but that the support from this space was - and always has been - palpable even when invisible.