When I was in California last November for the NCTE Convention, I programmed my phone’s navigation to take me to McCormick and Schmick’s at the Anaheim Garden Walk for the Slice of Life Meet-Up at 5:00. I couldn’t wait to meet everyone, to put faces with the names of the bloggers whose posts I read every Tuesday throughout the year and everyday during the month of March for the Slice of Life Writing Challenge. We were each bringing a gift for a writer for a gift exchange, but I knew that the best gift of all would be the personal connections I would make with my fellow writers.
I planned to arrive right on time so that I could be back at the Anaheim Hilton at 6:30 for the Open Write Meet-up in the MIX Restaurant for dinner with my group giving a presentation at the conference. Even though I was still in a boot as my broken right ankle healed, I figured this walk would be quick and easy.
I was wrong.
I’m not sure why, but whenever I’m walking in a major city along with hundreds of thousands of other people, I imagine that everyone is going to the same place I’m going – or at least that they know where everywhere is and can help me if I get lost. At the first intersection, my arrow was still wonky, changing directions like a compass that couldn’t locate magnetic north, so I took a chance and stayed in the stream with the masses.
I started scanning the throng of people for anyone who looked like a writer who might be headed to the table for the dozen or so of us who would be attending, and my eyes fell on two women about my age who appeared to have had the characteristic writer’s callus on the last knuckle of their middle fingers. I was convinced I’d successfully used my detective skills and found them.
At the next traffic light, I eased my way closer to them so that I could tag along and listen for a moment. They’d stopped talking, so I made a bold move and decided to ask.
“Are you going to the Slicer meet-up?”
No sooner had I gotten the words out of my mouth, I realized I had asked the wrong people the right question the wrong way, given the state of our world.
I found myself looking into two completely horrified faces. Horrified.
The walking light turned white, and they turned and took off in another direction, looking back over their shoulders at me as if I’d been sporting a knife in my boot. Me. A murderous slicer. I was glad I had saved a chain of emails in case the cops came and I had been taken in for questioning.
Next time, I’ll know to inconspicuously whisper, “Would you happen to be headed to the Slice of Life invitational dinner for celebrity writers?”
I walked on another block, and then I saw a familiar female face standing at a traffic light, waiting to cross. At least I was pretty sure it was her. I decided on a safer tactic.
“Yes,” she replied, looking at me curiously.
“I’m Kim. I recognize your picture from your blog. Are you going to the meet-up?”
We walked the rest of the way together, and we managed to find our fellow writers.
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing the Slice of Life Writing Challenge now and throughout the year, and to Melanie Meehan for arranging such a lovely gathering, full of fun, laughter, writers’ gifts, and stories! I’m hoping that we will be able to enjoy time together again at this year’s NCTE Convention. I’ll plan to Uber and would love to share a ride with you to the Citrus Society Celebrity Writer’s Red Carpet Invitational Gala!