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This past weekend, as many of our interwebs friends know, there was a tweet-up in Los Angeles.  The occasion was inspired by Stereo…she was to be in the States for a vacation with the mysterious, elusive Mister.  When someone flies halfway around the world, only to be as close as a half day’s drive, attention must be paid!

Dates were tossed around, and anyone with the means and the inclination was encouraged to attend.  Early on, Brooke, of Learning the Language of Brooke Farmer, and Shannon, of Thumbinmyway, joined in, and the plan began to take shape.

About a week out, I decided that I would book a hotel, and that I would take my daughter, Isabel, with me.  Our big adventure was a go.  Phone numbers were exchanged and we targeted Santa Monica as the site for the festivities.

As the days ticked off of the calendar, I have to admit that I started to get nervous.  I worried that I would be struck with an attack of shyness and that we’d all end up looking at each other stupidly, with nothing to talk about.

A tweet-up is a funny thing.  These are people who I have “met” online and come to “know” through blog posts.  There are sometimes very intimate details shared; but, it’s hardly the same as being able to conduct a conversation.

All of our tweeps were talking about how excited they were for us and how much they wished they could join us.  Pictures were requested and we were encouraged to have a drink for them.  All the while, I think the four of us experienced some butterflies – even Stereo, who tweeted that day that she was worried she couldn’t live up to the hype.

My daughter and I set off early Saturday morning.  It was hot and sunny as we left Phoenix.  The music played and we sang and talked and laughed the whole way.  We reached Manhattan Beach at about 1:30; but, our hotel room wasn’t ready.  That was fine with us…we hopped back into the car and headed to the beach.  We wandered down to the water and relished dipping our toes into the surf.  It’s quite something to listen to the waves breaking and to watch all of the people up and down the beach enjoy it in their own way.

We watched a really heavy guy squeezed into a wet suit try to body surf.  We watched three young guys toss a frisbee.  A big family was having a cookout, and in between hot dogs, they would toss their squealing children into the surf.  Women in impossibly small bikinis strolled by, hoping to catch the attention of one gorgeous man who was intent on nothing but the sun and his headphones.  The prep for a wedding was being just starting.

Pier at Manhattan Beach

After a while, we walked out onto the pier.  From there, we could watch several teenage boys surfing.  It’s interesting.  There is a lot of waiting in surfing.  You wait and wait for just the right wave, and then suddenly, everything is action and motion and roaring, tumbling water.  It would be so fun to learn.

Surfers at Manhattan Beach

Finally, it was time to head back to the hotel.  We had run out of change for the meter, and as much as I love the ocean, it was time to go.

We had just rushed through our showers, when Brooke called.  She suggested that we try the dining deck at the Santa Monica Plaza mall.  Stereo’s only request had been that there be some sort of steak on the menu.  Isabel seconded that.

The mall is an open air affair, and on Saturday nights is packed with people of every shape and color.  We were at a bit of a disadvantage with Brooke, because she keeps herself anonymous online.  Her avatar is a picture of herself wearing a feathered mask.  I had no idea what she looked like.  She found us.  Isabel and I are pretty easy to spot.

It was like greeting an old friend.  Brooke is so warm and funny.  She’s smart and frank and gave me a big hug.  After some discussion about where to go for dinner, we settled in on Zengo, an Asian Latin fusion place with an open air patio and big windows all around.

Zengo

Directions were texted and messaged to Stereo and Shannon, and we settled in. Brooke is great to talk to.  We have Colorado in common, and we talked about what’s up with her son.  Pretty soon, Stereo texted to say that they were there, and just needed to be guided in.  With her was Mister, of course, and another fellow blogger, Alana, of Life After Benjamin.

Any lingering doubts or insecurities that any of us had were immediately banished.  After hugs all around, we set to talking and laughing.

Stereo is every bit as wonderful in person as she is online.  She and Mister are just delightful.  They tease and egg each other on.  They add details to each other’s stories and laugh at each other’s jokes.

Alana was a lovely surprise.  Though we haven’t really talked online, she fit right in.  She has spent time in all sorts of places around the world.  I wish that we had more time to hear about her life.

The restaurant was cool in the night air, a welcome relief to Isabel and I.  We are weary of the summer heat.  The food was the type that is best served with dimmed lights…you eat it, not knowing exactly what it is, and enjoying every bite.

Zengo at night

We had joked all along that we would be drinking lots of alcohol; but, in the heat of the conversation, it just didn’t occur to us…neither did pictures.  We talked a mile a minute, about all sorts of topics, ranging from Stereo & Mister’s misadventures during their trip, to our political system, to friends, near and far.

Alana, Stereo & Mister

Can I just tell you what a delight Mister is?  He keeps a low profile online, but in person, his is a riot.

Not long into dinner, Shannon arrived.  She is such a sweetheart.  She too hugged everyone and we talked about some of the incredible trips she’s taken recently.

We did get a few pictures, and Brooke pulled out her mask.

I’m so proud of Isabel.  Both of my kids hold their own in conversations with adults.  Isabel delighted in grilling Stereo and Mister about all things English.  She finds it remarkable that they didn’t know what a Klondike Bar is and that they drive on the other side of the road.

All too soon, it was time to go.  We were getting the stink-eye from our waitress.  We were holding up a large table on the busiest night of the week.

As we stood outside, there were more hugs all around and we told each other again how glad we were that we’d gotten together.  We took one more picture.  I asked again if I could give Stereo & Mister a ride back to their hotel (they had taken the bus!  In L.A.!) and went our separate ways.

All the way back to our hotel, I was grinning like a fool.  It was better than I could have hoped.  It was worth every mile and every hour in the car.

Brooke, Shannon, Alana, Stereo and Mister are all friends now.  These are people I am honored to get to spend time with and hope to see again.

To all of our friends around the world…make more of these tweet-ups happen!  I promise that you won’t be disappointed.  Our circle of friends is made up of some pretty outstanding people and any combination would make for an amazing time.

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