As a Wisconsinite I grew up with a healthy fear of Chicago. After all, that’s where the Bears are from and no one wants to associate with them! (My dad’s a Bears fan. Yes, I’m the product of a mixed marriage. Go Pack!)
With this distaste buried deep my in soul, I boarded a plane bound for a city I despised to meet face to face friends I’d only talked to online.
Nervous doesn’t even begin to cover it. In my hyperbolic mind, STORY 2012 had disaster written all over it.
Where will I stay? Where will I park? How will I recognize people? What’s my conversation starter? What’s my exit excuse? What if they’re all crazy murderers? What if they all think I’m dumb?
Don’t get me wrong, I was excited beyond measure to put faces and voices to the names and photos; to hear Bob Goff, Anne Lamott, Rachel Held Evans, Erwin McManus, Phil Vischer, et al. speak; and finally conquer my Chicago-phobia.
I could not have imaged how well the whole trip turned out. Well, minus the tripping down the stairs in front of Sonny Lemons; trying to spit (and failing) in front of Tony and Katie Alecia, Matt and Bethany Suckrow, Krisi Johnson, and Emily Miller; and losing my voice.
It was such a joy to turn cyber friendships into off-the-screen friendships.
To hear the “Oh, that’s how you say that” when Ed Cyzewski introduced himself.
To be impacted by Tammy Perlmutter’s contagious laughter.
To have Tammy Helfrich shout my name across the crowded hallway.
To room with Nicole Unice–now there’s a story of God’s provisions if I’ve ever lived one.
When we said good-bye, we said we’d keep in touch. How often do people say that after a fun gathering? Frequently. How often does it actually happen? Rarely. The funny part is, this crew will because we were all in touch before hand. I can’t skim over Twitter conversations anymore; those are my friends talking.
As I very slowly process through STORY quote by quote, creative aspect by creative aspect, new friendship by new friendship, I am constantly reminded of how good God truly is. How He’s planted each any every one of us around the country–though much too far away for our own liking–for His purpose. Some of us may never cross paths again on this earth. Yet still for two days we got to break bread, laugh together, and share life.
Those two days were a true gift from heaven.
And it was nice to not be judged for the statement, “Wait, I need to Tweet that.”
What are you looking for?