We walked for blocks and blocks, sometimes in circles, talking the whole time. In a burst of misplaced confidence, we helpfully gave directions to a tourist, who came back and said to us cheerfully, "Hey, you were wrong! Uptown is THAT WAY!" We got kicked out of two places, although I am not at liberty to disclose the nature of our crime. Clearly word had gotten out that we were in town: at every restaurant or coffeehouse we entered, the candles had been removed from the table. My companion, you see, has a history of setting things on fire.
Yesterday, I spent the day with Pilgrim/Heretic, a blogger I've known for almost four years. I have spent many evenings hanging out at her blog, which has an uncanny resemblance to a virtual bar. Although we've exchanged emails and talked on the phone, this was my first time meeting my favorite virtual bartender face-to-face.
We moved about the city, meeting blogging friends at every turn. Phantom Scribbler gets the prize for coming the longest way (for what was sadly the shortest visit), but it was so totally wonderful to see her again. S from Rhymes with Javelin drove in to see us, taking the time to walk in the park with us, and she brought with her what is absolutely the best chocolate I've ever tasted. Magpie sneaked out of work to meet us on her lunch hour. Ianqui and Pilgrim got the chance to meet a character on my blog: Urban Sophisticate Sister, who entertained my friends with the story of how she found my blog by accident.
I cannot possibly reproduce the conversations that took place during this incredible day of blogger meet-ups and blogger reunions. We spent a ridiculous amount of time, for instance, discuss the best way to steal 30 chickens. (I say you can herd chickens quite easily — no need for a rolling suitcase with thirty holes in it for thirty clucking heads.) We told stories about things we'd set on fire — usually deliberately. We considered skinny dipping in Central Park, but decided it was too damned cold.
We talked about relationships and blogging friends and real life partners. I had that usual shifting of narratives inside my head that happens whenever I meet a blogger for the first time: "Hey, that story sounds familiar. I just read it somewhere. Oh, wait. It was ON YOUR BLOG." We covered all manner of topics: siblings, fireworks, mangos. I realized, to my horror, that I don't have a good mango story, a serious failing which I intend to overcome in the new year.
In between, we wandered City Like No Other, admiring architecture and strolling through parks and walking into alleys decorated with bright awnings and colourful merchandise. In a city that is laid out in a simple grid, where the streets are numbered and in order, I still managed to get us lost. I can get anyone lost. It's one of my talents. The strangest thing was the way Broadway disappeared mysteriously when we were trying to find it ... and then kept reappearing when we weren't looking for it at all.
Eventually, we gave up trying to find our way anywhere, and simply followed the path of least resistance — the little white man symbol that signals that it's okay to cross. ("Yes, that's a good idea, " S said. "Following the white man has worked out so well for civilization.) We switched, after that, to the blinking orange mitten symbol, which represented knitting and colour and warmth.
It was a wonderful day, filled with conversations and sightseeing and friendship. Pilgrim turned to me on the train and said, "Do you realize we've just spent 12 hours together?" But really, the 12 hours was way too short.