The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


Unmasking Ourselves

photo by exfordy

This is determination: Leaving at 4:00am to drive five and a half hours for a weekend with someone you've only met once. That's what my new friend Lisa, the head Nerdy Renegade herself, did last Friday. After planning to arrive on Saturday, we changed plans so Lisa could make it from Dayton to Greensburg without getting stuck in the blizzard that buried Ohio.

Lisa and I found each other last year in the world wide web of blogging. And then last July, on the first day of BlogHer in Chicago, as I was walking from the breakfast buffet to my seat, I heard a woman say, "Nerdy Renegade News." I whipped around, precariously balancing my coffee and mini-muffins, and said: "Nerdy Renegade News?! Are you Lisa from Ohio? I'm Jennifer from The Word Cellar!"

A few moments of squealing and hello-ing ensued, only to be cut short by the start of the morning seminar. A bit later, at a breakout session, I walked into the room and spied Lisa next to an empty seat. I sat down and assured her that I wasn't stalking her. We hit it off immediately, giggling like tweens over our blog crush across the room.

We continued to stay in touch by reading and commenting on each other's blogs and emailing every so often. Finally, Lisa suggested that we arrange a road trip to take our friendship to the next level: from virtual to physical. (And yes, I realize that sounds weird. And no, it wasn't like that. Even though while we were making dinner together one night, I exclaimed: "This must be what it's like to have a wife!" Ask any woman and she'll tell you that she really could use a wife.)

The most surprising part of the weekend was how easy it all was. I've been seeking new opportunities for friendship and community for at least a year, but always had this idea in the back of my head that I'm too old to be making new friends. I felt like it would just be too much work to meet new people and start from scratch.

This weekend I remembered that making new friends doesn't feel like work. Meeting business contacts, networking, and schmoozing -- those can feel like work. Falling into a friendship with a kindred spirit feels more like play.

Another interesting thing about making new friends as an adult is that it frees you from expectations. My friends from my younger years know me like we're family. Those long-term relationships can have a wonderful sense of intimacy and comfort. But there's also an unconscious, self-imposed rule to conform to a specific role. I don't mean that they foist their expectations upon me. I mean that it's easy for me to fall into the familiar patterns of our friendship; to stick to the script; to be the same old person.

But as we grow and evolve, we don't always know how to share these changes with the people who've known us to be this or that. If we're not careful, we stop being ourselves -- our current and up-to-date selves -- around the people who've known us the longest.

And there's a bonus with new friends: They're blank slates! They haven't already heard my favorite stories a dozen times. Which means they don't secretly roll their eyes when I pull out my stock anecdotes. And trust me, I have a lot of them. (Stick around here long enough and you can roll your eyes at me, too!)

I'm grateful for the new friends I'm making through blogging, as well as the ones who've known me for years. Each shows me a different side of myself, and I'm learning to be authentic with both sets.

(And now all you former Girl Scouts, please sing along with me:
Make new friends, but keep the old;
One is silver and the other's gold.
I don't agree with assigning precious metal status to friendships, but gosh it's a catchy tune. Now, let's do it in a round!)

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add to kirtsy | 9:51 PM


Blogger David said...

"Make new friends, but keep the old;
One is silver and the other's gold."

yeah i might be sick now.

on the plus side, good blog!

3/14/2008 11:54 AM  
Blogger Lulu said...

Very well said.

Come be authentic over at my place. You've been tagged!

3/14/2008 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I echo most of what you expressed. What a gift it was to be with you :-)

Thank you for your gracious hospitality - and for being open to my crazy idea to escape Ohio on yet another blogging friendship adventure. And for sharing your stories and listening to mine without judgment and with a sincere interest about me.

Since coming back home I've missed you this week. I keep thinking of what I would be doing if you were with me; the things I would show you, the stories we would share...

I'm blessed to know you - your husband and cats, too!

You will forever hold a special place in my life as the very first person who ever recognized me in public as the Nerdy Renegade!!!


3/15/2008 7:54 PM  
Blogger Jena Strong said...

I love this story of blogging meets real life. Glad you had a great weekend together.

3/17/2008 2:08 PM  
Blogger bella said...

What a wonderful story.
I've met a few women through blogging who have become friends, and a couple of them I now see regularly and have become some of my closest friends.
When you meet a kindred, it really doesn't matter how you meet them.
Glad you had such a good time!

3/17/2008 6:54 PM  

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