Slightly Belated Thoughts on Amazing People, Self-Doubt, and the Trip of a Lifetime
I have to make a bit of a confession: I have a lot of self-doubts when it comes to my level of education, creativity, even intelligence—especially intelligence. At the risk of laying it on too thickly, E2 features some people who are so intelligent, educated, creative, and talented, that I find noders pretty intimidating, even after having been to four nodermeets now, and met with several of the great minds of E2 outside nodermeet context.
It seems to be that initial impressions often frame our expectations of future events, and, while I've enjoyed my excursions to the Great Midwest quite a bit, I have to confess being a bit blown away by the sheer intellectual wattage that tends to congregate there, at Wiccanpiper and Briarcub's house or else at Gwenllian and Apatrix's home.
The first nodermeet I ever attended found me drinking with people like Izubachi, SciPhi, eien_meru, Wiccanpiper, and Briarcub—wonderful chaps, every one—but it should be sufficient to say that I felt more than a little bit outclassed in the old brains department.
And yet...these turned out to be some of the most wonderful and interesting people I've ever met.
I could hardly wait to meet the Britnoders—I'd heard so many tales of their wacky adventures. But there was still that familiar sense of apprehension: not only is that a very smart, creative, and talented group...but they are foreign to boot!
To the USAvian mind—well, to many of us—Brits and Europeans have an automatic gravity and coolness to what they say and do. Well, most of them do, I mean, not necessarily Benny Hill or Mr. Bean, but I think you see my point. Never having been out of my home country in 44 years of life, there was some slight concern in the depths of my mind that I might wander in like a strategically-shaved Neanderthal, pointing at great architectural treasures and going "Haha! Britties make purty building!"
And yet, somehow, I survived meeting lots and lots of noders, and I never seem to have been a clod or a boor, and, despite being Texan, even proved that I can pronounce 'nuclear' correctly.
Within a few days of arriving in London, I whisked off to the home of La Petite Mort and StrawberryFrog. These gracious Southern(hemisphere)ers treated their Texan guest like visiting royalty, welcoming me into their lovely home where I also met the brilliant and upbeat Auduster. LPM paid me a very great compliment when she told me that I didn't look like a tourist. The evening was so much fun that there was no room for me to have self-doubt—just to enjoy the company of three creative and intelligent friends who fed me a delicious dinner and, taught me about the joy Pimm's and Wii (a wonderful combination, really). The trip had started well.
A few days later, Dimview and I met up with archiewood and his charming girlfriend. Again, it crossed my mind that hanging out with two such brilliant noders could be quite intimidating, but Dimmie and Archie are both charming and good humoured companions—I was instantly at ease.
Another noder I got to meet, before the nodermeet, was AspieDad. Dimmie and I met him at his place of employment, and after a turn through the Borough Market and a quick tour of Southwark Cathedral, it was off to the Aspie home for a stunningly enjoyable evening featuring wonderful conversation (and lots of laughter) with his delightful family, a terrific meal (courtesy of one of GinSoaked's recipes)...plus a few bottles from the wine cellar.
At this point, I was having a hard time justifying my noder-phobia, but the big test would come on Saturday: a full-fledged nodermeet with a dozen or so of Everything2's most colourful and amazing denizens. I was to meet luminaries such as the Debutante, Sam512, and Heisenberg—if ever there was to be a time to panic, this would most certainly be it.
After a short time, walking and hanging out with this eclectic group, I started to put aside whatever self-doubt I had. Soon enough, I found myself talking history with the charming Ms. Debutante, whose historical knowledge is stunning...laughing about games (especially classic Magic: the Gathering) with the wonderfully raucous Hazelnut...chatting about a hundred subjects with the interesting and garrulous voltaireontoast and the less talkative but equally interesting Andrew Aguecheek...conversation with Sam512, Hazelnut, and BaronWR about the funny possibilities that a food place called Eat bring to mind (see Sam's writeup above for more info on that conversation)...discussing medicine and anatomical geekery with the very charismatic Heisenberg...pleasant conversation over a Guiness courtesy of the brilliant and fun Sam512...talking about the USA with DTal...or about Texas with that delightful Dane, Dimview...reciting Eddie Izzard routines with wntrmute...it was really an amazing day.
I'm sorry...what was my point? Oh yes, scary noders. The thing is, they weren't! Despite my foreignness and my sometimes clueless demeanour, everyone I met at the nodermeet or separately—without a single exception—was interesting, fun, and open...decidedly non-scary.
The man whom I call my "second father" referred to this vacation to England as my "trip of a lifetime," and it was. To travel a quarter of the way around this big old planet, and find such wonderful, warm, and welcoming friends made the experience far more enjoyable than I'd ever dreamed.
I look forward to the next time I get to confronting my inner demons by meeting some of the amazing people of E2.