Have you ever walked into a room and looked around and wanted to walk right back out? You wonder “What am I doing here?” I think it’s happened to us all at one time or another. Sometimes we just aren’t in the right place or the right time for whatever reason. It can shake you, and make you question a lot of things.
Then there are times you walk into a room and you just know “These are my people!” Just think back to a time that’s happened to you. Goosebumps, am I right? You can still remember the feeling, can’t you. I have been involved with different kinds of advocacy over the past several years, and every time I’m with my allergy peeps, I feel this way. In large group settings, or small nights out with my Mom friends, you can feel the connection.
“The school called today.”
“I got an email from the teacher about a science project.”
“There’s a field trip coming up.”
You say these things in a room with other people with food issues (be it allergies, Celiac disease, EOE – the list goes on) and they all just look at you and nod. They get it. These people know exactly what these statements mean. They can hear the “tired” in your voice when you talk about another meeting or phone call. They see it in your eyes when they start to well with tears of worry or triumph. They get the tone of your carefully worded question online (because we all wonder how secret our secret group really is) when we bump up against issues. They can help ease your fears with an upcoming challenge. Talk you up when you are just in the pits, and are your biggest supporters when you get over that hurdle you never thought you could.
I know I’ve spoken a bit about meeting Caroline The Grateful Foodie last month. Well, here’s the real story. I’m sitting waiting for the morning session to start, and she walks in AND SITS AT MY TABLE. I text my husband immediately and ask him what to do. He doesn’t understand the gravity of this question. I explain to him this is THE grateful foodie. Here. At MY table. What do I do? He suggests something so unheard of that it blows my mind. “Go introduce yourself to her.”
What? What is he suggesting? I re-read the text to see if he even understands what is happening here. He obviously just doesn’t get it, but I (for once) decide to listen to him. So over the course of the day, I try to not go totally fangirl (definition: an obsessive female fan (usually of movies, comic books, or science fiction)), and play it cool. Finally, at the end of the day, I walk over to her and shyly, which is so not me, introduce myself. We had “talked” on Twitter and other social media outlets before, but this is the real world. I hold out my business card and tell her who I am, and she smiles the warmest smile that made me know – she’s my people! It’s like we’ve known each other for a long time, and if you can believe it, she is even more warm and kind in person. We had the opportunity to “hang out” while in Las Vegas over the next few days, which may have included a trip to a shop that sells sweets, but we don’t need to go there (well, we NEEDED to go there but that’s not what this is about 😉 )
I have the opportunity this week to once again connect with my people. I’m heading out to Denver for the first time, to attend Fablogcon. I’m beyond excited to see Caroline again, and hope to meet many others who I have admired through the years of our journey. Many whose cookbooks have become tattered and worn over the years. Those whose blogs have made me laugh and cry. Cooks whose recipes have become indispensable to our family holiday meals, or are on my very (very very) long list of ones to try. Connecting to them, and learning from them, to help grow our project and get the word out about allergy awareness.
The connections we make in the food issue community go so deep. We share such a deep bond because food is something that happens in every walk of life, several times a day! We connect for support, to vent, to pass on recall notices, and yes, to share our victories. I am honored and humbled to be once again in the presence of greatness. Thank you for letting me be part of this community.
(I would like to disclose that I am the winner of conference admission via a Twitter party hosted by Celiac and the Beast, FABLOG.com and Enjoy Life. That said, this is how I feel about this community and I again thank them deeply for the opportunity to attend.)