Why I Flew to Charleston to See Someone I’d Never Met

by Abby on May 8, 2014

charleston, scCharleston smelled like sweetgrass and honeysuckle. I don’t know what sweetgrass is, exactly, but there were women on street corners weaving it into elaborate baskets. And the honeysuckle seemed to burst from every alleyway and climb up every wrought-iron fence. And the palm trees – now I get why South Carolina is called “The Palmetto State.” They were everywhere! I’ve always had a thing for palm trees. I’ve decided that S.C. has the coolest state flag ever. Maryland’s seems a little clashy and cluttered in comparison.

I went to Charleston to meet a friend. I’ve known Angie for years. We’re both writers, our boys are the same ages and have the same interests. We both struggle with work/life balance and finding purpose in our lives and work. We read and comment on each other’s blogs. We talk about books and publishing. We’ve had long discussions over email, the phone, and Skype during naptime, in the carpool line, and in interrupted intervals while our kids clamor in the background for snacks and TV.

Last weekend was the first time Angie and I have ever met in person.

Abby and Angie in Charleston

If you’re wondering why on earth a grown woman would hop on a plane and fly to another state to visit someone they met on the Internet, the introduction Angie gave at the beginning of her show explains it:

The show you’re about to see today started with an email. My friend Abby, who lives in Baltimore, sent me a message one day and said, “I just saw this stage show in DC called Listen To Your Mother, and it was incredible. Angie, you have to bring this show to Charleston.” That day, she planted a seed that wouldn’t let me go.

This year, Abby auditioned for the Listen to Your Mother show in Baltimore and made the cast. Their show was held last weekend. And today Abby is here in Charleston, in the audience. She flew here just to see the show. And when I picked her up at the airport yesterday it was the first time we’d ever seen each other in person.

This friendship of ours was formed online. We’re both writers, and we met and connected over the stories we told about our lives on our blogs … I tell you this to give you one example of the amazing power of stories and storytelling. Stories — especially true stories about real life — have the immeasurable power to connect us all. To remind us we’re not alone. Stories entertain, they inspire, and they heal.

I know what you’re wondering: what if Angie had turned out to be a teenage boy or a serial killer? Oh, well. YOLO! I’m kidding! But I do have that bucket list, remember? And in addition to leaps of faith and acts of courage it includes doing things that are just for me.

Back in the day before I had a husband or kids, I loved to travel. I traveled to France solo, and spent a summer in Montreal by myself. I took trips to San Francisco, New Orleans, the British Virgin Islands. I heard seals barking off Fisherman’s Wharf, rode on a streetcar beneath Spanish moss, and drank potentially hallucinogenic mushroom punch in a beach shack. I met musicians, self-proclaimed voodoo priestesses, and a guy called King Fish.

At times all that feels like another lifetime ago. Especially when I’m doing my endless 5-mile circuit of school-gym-grocery store-home, day after day after day in my crumb-filled SUV strewn with worksheets and granola bar wrappers. That I was ever wild and free enough to dance on tabletops and fly off to music festivals on a whim seems astounding. Who WAS that person?!

And yet, I got a tiny piece of my old adventurous self back last weekend in Charleston. I traded dancing on tabletops for drinks at a rooftop bar, and sleeping on the beach for a nice hotel room, however. I AM almost 40, after all. But standing on the pier under the Ravenel Bridge, the sun warming my skin and the scent of honeysuckle in the air, I didn’t feel 40. I just felt like myself. It’s good to know I’m still there.

LAUGH O’ THE DAY: Proof that my mom and I are kindred spirits — she clipped and sent me the same comic strip I had cut out myself:

For Better or For Worse comic strip

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie Mizzell May 9, 2014 at 7:40 am

I think that was the most enjoyable thing (for me) about your visit — seeing you connect with “Abby”. I could tell that was happening, and it was fun to watch you snap photos and to hear about your explorations when we weren’t together. But seriously, a teenage boy??? I couldn’t imagine how I would have pulled off that Skype convo if that were the case. Kidding aside, meeting you in person was as easy and as natural as I thought it was would be. Cheers to kindred spirits and cheers to friendship!


Abby May 9, 2014 at 10:31 am

*I* knew you weren’t a teenage boy. 😉 And even if you were, and it was all just an elaborate makeup job, you were still a great tour guide. Cheers!


MrsTDJ May 9, 2014 at 9:53 am

I absolutely love this!!! I remember attending my first blogging conference in 2012 and feeling as if I was finally meeting long lost friends – people who I’d known online for years, yet never laid eyes on. A few of my very best friendship are with people I’ve never met in person. The connection that can made by being the most authentic you is hard to explain, but you and Angie have done it! Cheers for many years of friendship!!


Abby May 9, 2014 at 10:32 am

Thanks, Taya! I know, it is really hard to explain to people who are not bloggers or writers and haven’t experienced that connection. But it’s so great – it makes the world so much bigger and more interesting!


Lou Mello May 9, 2014 at 12:46 pm

What a very cool way to meet. Of course, I also met Angie via the blogosphere even though we both live in Charleston. She also introduced me to your blog which I enjoy immensely.

Angie and I actually met in person for the first time at a concert where we we exchanged texts and started waving our arms to find one another. Of course, the Lovely Miss TK thought I was a cwazzzy person. When Angie came up to my so-so seats from her primo seats, we hugged and chatted until it was time for her to go back to her seats. Hugging the first time we met in person seemed like just the right thing to do. Amazing power of online connections.


Abby May 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Lou, I just met someone in my city in person after meeting first online. It’s cool, because we live just a few miles apart but may have never crossed paths otherwise.


Angie Mizzell May 9, 2014 at 3:37 pm

That’s right! I had forgotten that’s the first time we had met in person. I guess because I felt like I already knew you. And, I did have awesome seats! Sugarland, right? The first song before the LTYM show started was their song, “Stand Up”.


Lou Mello May 9, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Yep, it was Sugarland and they were great.


Erin Kienzle May 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Angie has years of experience with TV make-up… you’re lucky she wasn’t just a really good cross dresser. 😉 It was great to meet you this weekend!


Abby May 9, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Great meeting you, too, Erin! Yours was one of my absolute favorite pieces in the show. I thought of you yesterday when I was cranking out copy about construction safety. 😉 The glamorous life of a writer!


Angie Mizzell May 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm

shhhh, don’t tell anyone.


Kate Hopper May 9, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Abby, I love this so much! I love the photo of the two of you and that you had a chance to reconnect with your fabulous self. And of course this reminds me of when dear Angie Mizzell flew out to Minneapolis for the Ready for Air launch even though we’d never met in person. LOVES!!


Abby May 11, 2014 at 10:25 am

Thank you, Kate! Maybe Angie’s trip inspired mine. We writers have a special connection, for sure!


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