We met in the Village, of course.
She took me first to a crowded coffeehouse that could have been a television set because it looked exactly like a Big City Like No Other coffeehouse should look. The big room was filled with young people, some with laptops, some with books and papers, some gathered in talkative groups on comfy couches. They had pushed the chairs and couches around, clumping and crowding them together, in the way that people do when they feel at home. They drank coffee and talked and worked on their computers, and the energy felt much like the energy in my own living room when all my kids and extras are home.
It was wonderful to meet Ianqui for the first time. I began reading her blog before I had a blog, which means I've been reading her blog for more than three years. And I've admired her photographs for almost as long. I still remember the fantastic photos she posted just about three years ago of Christo's art installation in Central Park: the Gates. I didn't make it into the city to see the Gates myself, but I felt like I was there just by looking at her photos. Last year, she did the 365 project: she took and posted a photo every single day, many of them just fantastic photos of life in Big City Like No Other. Her fans include my parents, who check her photoblog everyday.
The wonderful thing about meeting a blogger is you don't have to bother with backstory; you've already read that. We dived right into all kinds of conversations about our lives, our jobs, her pregnancy, my kids. We did the usual obligatory blogger meet-up routine, comparing what blogs we read, which bloggers we've met, which bloggers we want to meet. Influenced perhaps by my bird-watching mother, who has a life list of birds she's seen, I keep a life list of bloggers I've met, and Ianqui is number 37 on my list. (My blogging conference roommate, Often Erotic Sometimes Blogging Friend, has contested the validity of the life list, arguing that four of the people on there are people I already knew in real life before they before they began blogging. But I think, since I started them blogging, I should really get to count them twice. She says that's like taking credit for selling crack cocaine.)
Ianqui and I were so busy talking that I didn't even notice that the place had emptied around us. "I think they are going to kick us out," Ianqui said. I looked up to see that the staff were rearranging the furniture for some kind of event. So we went out into the windy night and walked a few blocks to a restaurant that served what Ianqui called vegan comfort food. In a strange coincidence, the restaurant was the place one of my students had recommended when she heard that I was going into the city for a few days.
By the time we got to the restaurant, we were already acting like old friends, confiding in each other about unbloggable issues. And by the end of the meal, we were eating off the same plate, sharing a huge piece of unbelievable decadent chocolate cake, which the waitress assured me was vegan. By that time we'd been talking for nearly five hours, and I hadn't even had a chance to take a nude photo. We hadn't even taken out our cameras. But I assured her that my conference roommate would cooperate and pose naked, which meant she was off the hook. I said I'd to try to come back in May and take a photo when the weather was warmer. By then the contours of her body will be that much more interesting.