A week and a half ago, I arrived in St. Louis to attend the ACFW Conference. The very cool Cindy Herron rode up with me, accommodating both my need to drive up Wednesday night and my desire to get there before registration closed so I could see who my appointments were with. Lo and behold, the first person I met was none other than
Candace Calvert! And she was as excited to see me as I was to see her! [though I think that may have had more to do with keeping tabs on me so she’d know if I’d had a chance to snag the thumb drive with her latest manuscript on it.]
But Thursday was when most folks arrived. And when I was sure I’d make a fool of myself.
So I’m standing there. Minding my own business [not really, I was chatting with some other people at the registration desk] and then…
There she was.
Mary! Con! Nealy!
It can’t be! But it is! Be cool, I said to myself. You want to be her when you grow up. You don’t want her to get a restraining order. Would make attending conferences much harder.
Deep breath. Don’t scare her. It’s too late. “Mary Connealy!” I say, unable to stop myself. She’s looking at my nametag. Maybe she won’t recognize me without the avocado green make-up and dreds we talked about. You’re going to be banned from the new Seeker-village if you don’t stay cool. But I have cookies. Everything’s better with cookies, right?
She even pronounced it right! [Pause button for a second: I don’t remember if she pronounced it right or not. She may have even just said Carol. But this is how it plays out in my memory. Go with it ;). Push play…]
Now, shake her hand. Don’t jump over the table and tackle her. Extend your hand, nice and slow. You don’t want to hit her.
Mary: Get over here and give me a hug! [Pause button again: Or something to that affect. Don’t want Mary to think I’m purposefully putting words in her mouth ;). Play…]
SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Don’t squee out loud. Don’t hurdle the table. Walk slowly around and…
Like meeting an old friend. Big deep sigh of relief. She didn’t run screaming away. She seems to still like me. We can even chat for a few minutes without me squealing with child-like glee. In fact, she, like Candace, seems just about as glad to see me as I am to see her. Big deep breaths and back to work at the registration table.
Until a few minutes later when…
Wash. Rinse. Repeat. With a few more “Oh! My! Stars!” thrown in for good measure. And Cara Lynn James was there, too. And I think it was Audra Harders who took the pictures [they’re a bit fuzzy. Don’t blame Audra. Blame my phone. It takes eons to take a pic and is nearly impossible to hold still].
[Did I mention I met Ruthy BEFORE my newly-discovered twin, Pepper? And that I texted her a pic and she was jealous? At least for a few minutes. Because then Pepper got to hang out with them. I didn’t. Not then anyway.]
I met SOOOOOO many amazing people. Audra, I think was one of my unexpected favorites. I knew I liked her. I expected to like her. I just didn’t know HOW MUCH I was going to LOVE her! I love Audra! She was so sweet and so supportive through the whole conference. So much so that I won’t post the pic Julie emailed me. Instead, I’ll post this one:
Because I have NO [NONE!] pics of me and Audra. Other Seekers there were: Pam Hillman, Myra Johnson and Julie Lessman [wasn’t she at lunch? How is she not in the pic?]. LOVED Pam and Myra as well. And we all know I adore Julie ;).
I did get to hang out with all of them at the evening Seeker gatherings in the bar. There I bribed them with the cookies I’d brought. The Seekers [and all the Seeker friends who were there] are so wonderful. If you’re ever at an ACFW conference, you should hang out with them. Or if you’re anywhere else they are. Seriously. You could even take a road trip to a book signing. I wouldn’t know anything about that. Yet ;).
Bribing with cookies never did get me the much coveted seat between Mary and Julie [Lorna Seilstad got that!], but that’s okay. I made some GREAT new friends. And made GREAT connections and LEARNED so much!
But more on that another day ;).