(Introductory note: #edcampkinder was a live meetup, in Las Vegas, earlier this week, attended by 10 teachers who are frequent fliers on the #kinderchat hashtag. Basically: we chose a destination, a hotel, and we hung out for 3 days. It was an ongoing conversation about What We Do, interspersed with pool-lounging and show-watching and buffet-eating, spread over the hottest 3 days in recent memory. A few of us had met in person before. Most of us hadn’t. It was amazing and weird and terrifying and awesome.)
I was telling a friend — a good friend, who knows me well and shares some of my homebody-introvert tendencies — about #edcampkinder, and she commented: “I’m impressed you went, especially all by yourself. I don’t know if I would be able to do that.” Fact: it never occurred to me NOT to go. The timing worked, the cost worked, the destination worked. I went. Not only did I go, I helped plan the thing. I chose the hotel (FYI: there was shade at the pool!). I encouraged others to go.
With all of this being said, there is no denying: #edcampkinder was, for the most part, a big fat blind date. And, if you know me like my friend does, you know this: I hate dating. HATE. IT. I hate small talk and chit chat and all the things that you do to make it feel okay that you are sharing a meal with a stranger. I hate strangers. In university, I had a roommate who talked all the time about how she LOVED meeting new people. Me? Not so much. I like MY People, but I do not find myself on a constant quest to have more People. It makes sense that my friend was surprised at my trip.
|World’s biggest blind date? Surprisingly non-awkward!|
I do want to be clear, especially to my dear #edcampkinder and #kinderchat friends who are reading this: I did not, for one moment in all of this, consider you true “strangers.” We know each other. We talk nearly every day. We tweet and e-mail and Facebook and google doc. We collaborate and cooperate and dream and scheme and plan together. In 140 characters, you can know a surprising lot about a person.
But also: in 140 characters, you know everything and nothing about a person. Ditto for e-mail, Facebook comments, and online chats. Far too many years of online dating and internet-based camp staff hiring have taught me that. Lots of people give good e-mail/Facebook/Twitter. But until you see them, face to face across a hamburger or a latte or a cold Corona, the possibility remains that it is all just smoke and mirrors.
You see, I believe in chemistry, and not just in a romantic setting. I believe that there is something that happens when you are smiling and making faces and raising your eyebrows and pointing your fingers and waving your hands around when you talk to someone LIVE AND IN PERSON. At least, if you are me, you do all of those things when you talk. It’s who I am and it’s how I am and it surprises some folks when they meet me in person, but there it is: I’m a hand-talker. If that doesn’t work for you, we probably can’t be friends. Or something.
For all that I hate “getting to know” people, I love KNOWING people, and I love when people KNOW me. I love that spark of “oh, wow, dude, you totally GET me.” I love discovering My People. And the very possibility – the still, small, hope of REALLY SEEING and being REALLY SEEN by another person… that’s what got me, with all of my weirdoms (or what my #kindertwin, @matt_gomez, generously refers to as my “quirks”) on a plane to meet 9 other teachers — 6 of whom I had never met — at a mid-range hotel on The Strip, in Vegas, for 3 days. The desert, in July. Dessert (preferably of the frozen variety) in the desert. With strangers.
And what did I find there? People I knew. People who knew me. Spine-tingling moments of “oh, wow, dude, you totally GET me.” I REALLY SAW, and was REALLY SEEN. Hand-talkers. Finger wavers. Eyebrow-raisers. Sh*t disturbers. Smartasses. Kind hearts. Generous souls. Shared laughter. Some of it inappropriate. Oh yes, these are My People.
I have a list, on Twitter. A pretty darn short list, called “People I Actually Know.” That list is a little longer than it was a week ago. If you know me, if you REALLY KNOW me, you know: that, all by itself, is a pretty damn big deal.
Thank you, My People.