Last night I drove in to town for the SMC Seattle event my friend Maya put together. I say “Drove In To Town” because home-girl lives outside the city and in the past year has transformed from a Houston-size-city-girl to someone who can’t navigate anything bigger than Wichita Falls.
I put the address in to my GPS and my iPhone puts up a message, “Go toward the fucking Space Needle. Then ARRIVE IN SE-ATTLE.” No, I swear it said that. I’m pretty sure my phone called me a moron.
Forty minutes of sitting on a floating bridge head-bobbing to people in cars next to me as we do a dance of this-or-that-lane later, I fight, literally, to arrive at a parking spot that costs more than 5 half gallons of ultra organic milk flown in over night from France. Thankfully I wasn’t even late.
Walking in to the room now shaking and feeling the traffic sweat stains lining my shirt, I find exactly four people I know. No! Five! I met one other girl briefly a few years ago. That counts. There is a large crowd of faces. There are all types of people with vaginas and five - tops - people with the other parts. I find a group of three young men standing in a sea of women. “Uh, you know this is about connecting to MOMMY BLOGGERS,” I offer in case they didn’t realize we’d all have baggage and thought this was some sort of freak-awesome party. I sort of look out for people like that. Setting expectations and all.
The panel itself was lovely. All the panelist were genuinely fabulous and Maya couldn’t have found a more diverse group to speak. Sitting next to me was the most lovely, sincere, amazing new-blogger and local TV personality Jenni. She’s pretty much an angel. In our answers she’s talking about how to leverage her traffic to give things to charity or work with brands to benefit the homeless or solving world peace and helping all children get medical attention and I’m all, “OH! You know what? VEEV sent me a bottle of this amazing Acai Berry spirit and I LOVED IT…. IT WAS GOOD, Y’ALL. NO REALLY.” I lost brain cells just opening my mouth. Thankfully the audience laughed with me most of the night. There’s something comforting about hearing laughter. Not in the way that the cheerleaders and jocks did in Jr. High the time you had your skirt tucked in to your pantyhose walking down the hallway, but more in the sense that you feel like THEY GET YOU.
In fact, I felt that a lot last night.
As we talked, sharing our stories, our experiences, it wasn’t a social media discussion anymore: It was people connecting as people. It was all up in the “EYE ARE ELL” as I saw people smile or nod or laugh or start to doze off. These are the faces behind the computers. These are people tweeting shit that comes out of my mouth. Shit that actually turned out pretty decent since they made it so easy to be honest and real.
In a sea of perfect strangers, I connected with so many women and exactly two men. Sarcasm, geekhood, stories. It was a space where I could be myself, even if less than perfect, or self conscious, or regretting my shoe decision. In the end, Scott Berkun was right, a crowd of strangers is really just a group of future friends.
And nobody has to be pictured naked.