Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A blogging journey

On Friday evening I waved goodbye to the Doctor and the Littleboys at La Guardia airport and boarded a plane by myself.

Three hours later, I touched down in another American city and hurried out of the airport in the dark and cold. I then took a taxi to a hotel, where I was booked into a room with two people I'd never met before.

I entered the bar next to the hotel with a little trepidation, wondering if I would be able to identify the people I needed to meet - and whether they would turn out to be as I hoped.

And then I breathed a sigh of relief. Because sitting there, quite clearly recognisable despite the fact I had no idea what most of them looked like, were Expat Mum, Iota, Calif Lorna and Nicola. A little group of British expat women whose blogs I have read, commented on and come to love over the last couple of years. We had travelled to this hotel in Chicago from the East Coast, the West Coast, the Midwest and from the city itself. And despite the fact that we had never met in the flesh, I sat down immediately and began to talk.

I don't think we stopped talking all weekend, in fact. Not that evening, or the next morning as Expat Mum kindly gave us a detailed guided tour of city from the comfort of her car, or the next afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago, when Geekymummy joined us from San Francisco, or Saturday night when we went out for cocktails and delicious Vietnamese food. We were still yattering away when we met for brunch on Sunday morning and then strolled in perfect autumn sunshine looking at Chicago's magnificent display of urban sculpture. Even when the lovely Nicola kindly dropped us at the airport to fly back to our respective corners of the USA, the conversation was still going strong - in fact, Geekymummy and I even managed to chat our way through the tedium of the 30 minute security queue at O'Hare Airport (quite a feat, really).

And we didn't just talk about blogging. Far from it. We talked about families, about America, about our lives and our plans and our thoughts. Just as we do online, in fact. And the amazing thing was that these women were just as funny, warm and intelligent as they are online, each with their own distinctive character and voice that makes their blogs such fun to read.

I never went into blogging to meet people - in fact I think it was probably the last thing on my mind when I started writing this blog in January 2008. I already had friends, and I suppose I was really aiming the blog at them, but I didn't even expect strangers to comment, let alone become loyal readers and amazing sources of information and advice.

But this was a fantastic weekend. So thank you, Chicago ladies, for your company and your conversation. And if anyone wants to join us next year, I'll definitely be up for another US blogger gathering.

22 comments:

Potty Mummy said...

Wow. Jealous, me? HELL YES! Sounds great, especially since I'm lucky enough to have met 4 of you in person already. Come, on let's both try BA for those sponsored flights for next June...

PantsWithNames said...

I'm green with jealousy - know and love all those blogs. I bet you all had a total ball. How wonderful!

Expat mum said...

It is hilarious that you can take a group of women who really have nothing in common (except blogging and being expats) and yet they can natter without pausing for breath, for an entire weekend!
Good times!

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

Sounds like a fab weekend! I have very similar feelings about blogging and the unexpected frienships that spring out of it. Now I'm off to check out the couple of those blogs that I don't know!

Knackered Mother said...

Oh, how lovely. That's sisterhood, that is x

MTFF said...

I'm so GUTTED that I couldn't make it last weekend. I really, really wanted to go but the crazy travel plans around here made it next to impossible and now I'm having a quiet sulk about it at home.

Next year I am SO THERE, just try and stop me!
How about a West Coast jaunt? Can we persuade you?

xoxo

Almost American said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend, as I knew it would be. Wish I could have been there :-(

planb said...

Could I be more jealous? Fantastic blogs and amazing women all (and I've never met any of them....!)

Calif Lorna said...

I'm with MTFF - think we might have to make it a West Coast meet up next time - especially if it's November again!

It was so lovely to meet you, and all the other bloggers, so great to hear everyone's stories about living in the US.

And no, I don't think we stopped talking until I left for the airport!

AliBlahBlah said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. I've been reading a lot of these blogs for a while now too - so I'll have to check out the other gals sites. Glad you had such a great weekend - I can see an Expat Blogher in the making!

Iota said...

Privileged to be part of it! We did talk a lot, didn't we? A LOT.

nappy valley girl said...

PM - bags I Virgin! Would be nice, wouldn't it?

PantswithNames - you were there in spirit - we all agreed on how much we loved your posts and wondered whether you'd had the baby yet....

ExpatMum - not sure whether that says more about women or bloggers...but it was fun!

Tanya - glad to hear you've made some friends too. Would love to know your favourites.

Knackered Mother - certainly is.

MTFF - So sorry you couldn't join us! As for next year, there is a strong California lobby already and I have to say, you girls do have the weather on your side...

AlmostAmerican - join us next year! You'd be very welcome.

planb - It was great, almost like having your favourite characters from a novel come to life....

Lorna - see above. I think you girls might have the edge next year....

Ali - and I will check out yours too. Thanks.

Iota - yes, we did. Our room reminded me of boarding school a bit - the temptation to talk way after lights out....

Home Office Mum said...

AS I said on Iota's blog, am hating you all right now. it sounds soooooooooo fab.

Shirley said...

I just read Iota's blog and had to come visit yours. Sounds like a wonderful weekend!

Nicola said...

It was the best weekend I have had in a LONG while - and thank God you were all there, because you were all the most incredible distraction from my moggy. The weekend definitely wasn't long enough - I don't know about you, but I had so much chat left.

(Tho my jaw did ache for 24 hours after you left...wonder why?)

geekymummy said...

Wasn't it just so much fun? haven't chatted so much in a long long time. I'm up for next year. San Francisco is a wonderful city.... Mind you, I love New York too!

nmaha said...

That sounds so amazing. I really hope i get an experience like that some day. I pretty new to blogging so I'm willing to wait.
Thank you for sharing.

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Can I join the queue of green eyed monsters!? Iota & I are going to skype today so hopefully i'll hear all about it! But wd have loved to have been in on something like that. Well, when we move back to Oxford maybe Pants & I will organise an Oxford/London one! It is SUCH a fun fringe benefit of blogging. Not the blogging community which is q central, but the real meet ups to flesh out the words.

MarmiteFluff said...

Ah, that sounds like such good fun. Love all your blogs -- you must have had a blast.

Nappy Valley Girl, I've tagged you this week...sorry. :)

http://www.kathrynallison.com/1/post/2010/11/one-of-those-things-where-another-blogger-tags-you.html

Mwa said...

So much fun!

Metropolitan Mum said...

Happy to hear you had such a great time. I am a teeny bit envious, I have to say. x

A Modern Mother said...

Can I come next time???