This post is about my Real-Life Dream Date with Renee Schuls-Jacobson of RAS Jacobson’s Lessons from Teachers and Twits.
You can be jealous that I got to meet her.
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“Do you actually know this person? Are you even sure she’s a woman? You better hope she’s not a psycho.”
My husband’s sentiments were bouncing around in my head as I approached the hotel. I know quite a few stories about people meeting online, and then traveling across the country to meet in person. (Well, she was actually tagging along on a business trip with her husband – not a trek JUST to meet me – but all the other criteria were the same as one of those weird internet-friendships-gone-bad stories.) I had to admit, on paper it did sound a little strange.
But I was drawn to her anyway.
Her text said she was at the corner of Canal and Camp, and that she was wearing an orange coat. As I looked down at the orange sleeves keeping me warm I thought “psychos don’t wear orange coats.” And I pulled over.
That’s when a bundle of energy named Renee Schuls-Jacobson jumped into my car.
She squeed. We giggled. We shared our thoughts that this was a little crazy. (Her husband suggested to her that I might be a psycho. Imagine that.) Then the adventure began.
For the next seven hours, hardly a breath was taken. We had so much to say. Having “met” online, we knew the cursory information about one another. But I had no idea I was meeting a kindred. Someone who – although from the other side of the country – felt as familiar as my next-door neighbor.
We traipsed through the French Quarter in search of a hat. (It was record-setting cold in New Orleans last week.)
We shopped for souvenirs in the Market. (I like this voodoo doll better than that voodoo doll.)
We sat on the banks of the Mississippi River talking about blogging and writing and social networking, and asked a stranger to take our picture. (Yes, we need you to use both cameras. We don’t actually know each other.)
We drove around the city on the ‘Tragedy Tour’ to see the Katrina damage, even hopping out of the car a couple of times to view things up close. (“Really, officer. We’re not trespassing, we were just looking. My friend’s not from here.”)
It was one of those intense bonding experiences like finding a BFF at summer camp. You just can’t squeeze enough in in the time you have together.
Hour after hour peeled away, and we still had so much to do and say. I kept thinking ‘I don’t want it to end.’ I was definitely smitten.
I wondered if our paths would ever cross again. She lived here once, many years ago. Perhaps I could convince her to move back… I mean, who wouldn’t want ME for a neighbor? Or perhaps ours was a relationship not meant to last, like a Tiger Lily that blooms only for a day.
My girl-crush was obvious.
I watched the clock and saw our time together dwindling down, and I started feeling a little anxious. But then I remembered our roots, that if the internet had brought us together, the internet could keep us together.
Relief. My girl-crush didn’t have to end that day.
By mid-afternoon I had to return to Real Life, and my new BFF had other friends to see (ones she actually knew before she got here). I had to give her back to her loved ones, and return to mine.
But the memories of our day together will always be special to me. And if our paths never cross again, if was only meant to be that once, I’ll have to come to terms with that. If there are no more memories to be made, I’ll cherish the ones I have.
Renee, we’ll always have NOLA.
Five fabulous things about Renee:
When she casts her eyes down to read a menu, she looks like Barbara Streisand. The restaurant was dimly lit, but her crystal eyes sparkled through her glasses. (I nearly swooned.)
She’s not as tall as I expected. Her online presence is BIG. I expected her to be taller. Turns out she’s a wisp-of-a-woman. And her hair is FABULOUS. (Is my crush showing?)
Her energy is contagious. When walking with her, my step had more spring than usual. My voice was a little more animated. Even strangers picked up on it.
She speaks about every one of her students like they are her favorite. Story after story unfolded about them, both past and present. I hope someday my boys have a teacher as committed to her students as she is.
Her novel is going to be fantastic. I’m hoping our bonding time here earned me a little shout-out when she’s doing the talk show circuit. Or at least a signed copy with little XOXOs under her name.
I (heart) you, Renee.