Thursday, April 17, 2008

Meeting New People

Abby says:
The other day I awoke around 7:00 am -- which for me, is like being on vacation. I slipped into my workout gear, grabbed my iPod and headed to the fitness center. I sleepily stepped up onto the elliptical machine, turned on the Today Show, put my headphones in my ears and began my workout. This was no ordinary workout and no ordinary day. As I peered out of the hotel fitness center's floor-to-ceiling window on the top floor, the sun was brightly reflecting on the ornately carved silver building facade across the street. This was my final day in New York City -- my most favorite destination.

Sheri and I had been attending our annual writer/author conference for the weekend, and it was time to go home. We always meet the most interesting people with interesting stories to tell, and this year was no exception. I found that the "six degrees of separation" concept still holds true.
We joined a random group of writers for Saturday dinner. When we all sat down and began talking, I realized the people at my end of the table were all medical writers -- just like me. I am not sure how that twist of fate happened.

· Judy, who was sitting next to me, was writing a book about being a "replacement child" -- being conceived after the death of her sibling when a plane crashed into their home.
· Elyse was an author from Midland, Michigan. I know one person from Midland -- my best friend from high school and college with whom I recently reconnected. And, they are both nurses! How weird is that?

· Kim had recently scored a book agent and was writing about big name athletes (of course I cannot mention which ones).
· Then there was Martha, who was writing a book about a home out East infiltrated with demons. She was interviewing priests from the Catholic Church as well as the home's residents.

At breakfast, we met Tireska. I cannot remember what her current book was about, but she had Demi Moore silky dark hair, perfect skin, kitchy spectacles, cool clothes and a sophisticated British accent from living in the UK the last seven years. At that moment, I wanted to be her.

I also had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with my professor, Melissa Rosati, from my Master's program. That was a great treat. She took me around the building where our graduate classes are and I got the official tour. It was fun to see what I have only imagined via my cyber classroom experience so far.

This was a great trip and an opportunity to decompress and escape into the deep dark caverns of my mind.

Sheri says:
I have been to this conference and to Manhattan many times. It never disappoints -- neither the city nor the conference. The energy and the passion is contagious. Plus, it lets me reconnect with Abby in a way that our daily lives do not allow.

We've attended this conference for enough years that now we see familiar faces. Abby is much better at networking and meeting new people but she allows me to tag along.

We spent lots of time with fellow writers and journalists. I was inspired by their ideas and various projects. Some conferences and writer's groups get colloquial and secretive. Not this event. People openly share their projects, their ideas, their mishaps, etc. I learn a lot in the seminars but I also learn from the other attendees.

The flight home is bittersweet. I replay the people I've met. I try to sort through new goals. I press my forehead against the window and say a silent good-bye to Manhattan. To quote someone near and dear to my heart, "I'd live there if I had a k'zillion dollars."

Abby listed several of the talented writers we met and/or reconnected with. I have one more.
We went to the Capitol Grille for a drink and to decompress. Our server was Patrick and he did the usual shtick -- Where are you from? What are you in town to do? It turns out Patrick is also an aspiring writer. We returned one other time and Patrick bought us a glass of wine. (That may happen in Indy but it's pretty rare in Manhattan.)

In my college years and early 20s, I used to think I would live in Manhattan. It didn't happen. Life threw me some different paths.

But I will go there at every opportunity and I will absorb the energy. For a second, I will wish I was 20 years old or even 30 years old and would've made a few different choices. And I will look forward to next year.

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