Yesterday I spent the day with an international group of bloggers, and what fun it was! Okay, most of us were from the U.S., and the majority of us were from Connecticut, but we did have one person from Germany, one from Indiana, and one from Pennsylvania.
It was Charlotte, Cam, Emily, Becky, Marcy, Hobgoblin, and I, and we met at the Hungarian Pastry Shop, right across the street from the magnificent St. John the Divine cathedral. This was my first meeting with Charlotte and Cam; I’d seen pictures of Charlotte on her blog, so I recognized her right away when I saw her with the group, but none of us knew what Cam looked like, so we had to keep an eye out for someone who looked like she was keeping an eye out for us. We all felt a little relieved when we found each other and the group was complete.
The pastry shop was cute, cozy, and crowded, and it looked like we might have to stand, but we managed to find some tables to put together and got down to getting to know each other a bit. I’ve had a few experiences of meeting bloggers in person now, but it continues to feel just a bit strange — in a good, fun way of course. It takes a little time to adjust the mental image I have of a person with the reality and to settle into a new way of communicating — in real time, with real conversation, instead of the slow pace of blog posting and commenting. And it’s a little odd trying to keep straight what fellow bloggers know and don’t know about me, what I’ve posted about and what I haven’t, and it’s even odder when I’m with such a mixed group — one person who knows me mainly in real life but gets some information about me from the blog (Hobgoblin); a few people with whom I interact more often online than off, but with whom I do have a face-to-face friendship (Becky, Emily, and Marcy); and two people who up until that moment I had known exclusively through blogging but now had a chance to talk with in real life. What a mix of histories and relationships! It’s mildly disorienting (in a good way!).
So, after some time in the pastry shop, we headed off to The Strand (in a cab that made me car sick, which I guess is about right, given what NYC traffic is like and the way cabbies drive), one of the best bookshops around. Here we lost ourselves in books for an hour or two. I headed straight for the literary nonfiction section and spent the entire time checking out literary biographies and essay collections. I loved browsing through the books, but I wasn’t in a mood to buy many — oddly enough; it does happen sometimes though — and found only one I couldn’t resist, Janet Malcolm’s book about Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Two Lives.
Afterward, we all assembled out on the street and shared our finds, and then got lunch, enjoying mimosas and macaroni and cheese while listening to a lot of Depeche Mode (Hobgoblin was able to tell us the year each and every song was released, having a good memory that way).
At that point we were feeling ready for an afternoon nap, and some of us decided to head home and take one, while everybody else hopped on the subway for one final trip, this time to The Mysterious Bookshop. This is a marvelous store, with a mix of new and used books, and lots of books signed by their authors. Again I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without, but I happily looked through the shelves, thinking about all the Ian Rankin, Elizabeth George, Ruth Rendell, Henning Mankell, etc., etc. books I have to look forward to reading.
And then we went our separate ways, tired but happy, having had a great time and collected a lot of books. It’s marvelous to meet fellow book bloggers — you may be very different people but you automatically have a lot in common because of the hobby you share — and I highly recommend it!