Picture it, Sicily, 1923…
Oh wait, that’s a Golden Girls flashback, not my life.
Picture it, Antioch, 2006. I’m a new mom-through-adoption. I spend a lot of time on the adoption.com forums. I know two birthmothers – Jackson’s (S) and my schizophrenic aunt, who placed a baby for adoption at some point in the 70s. Most of my information and opinions about birthmothers come from S.
Dawn Friedman was a big presence on the forums at that time, and LiveJournal was a pretty happening place. Dawn found my LJ “blog” and friended me. She then introduced me to Jenna Hatfield, gently suggesting that Jenna might be a good influence on my thinking about birthmothers. Jenna was a moderator on the forums then, I think, and she also had an LJ “blog.” In addition, she had two other blogs – The Chronicles of Munchkinland and Stop, Drop, and Blog. Chronicles was devoted to her life as a first mother (Jenna’s preferred term), while Stop, Drop was (and still is) devoted to her everyday life.
It didn’t take me long to learn that Dawn was right. Jenna is an amazing person, and I’m so glad that I found her. I have said it before: I want to be Jenna Hatfield when I grow up. Sure, Jenna is somewhere between 5 and 8 years younger than I am, but her writing is poignant, evocative, thought-provoking, inspiring, and real. Somehow, she mothers two kids, works as a writer, goes on dates with her husband, and still has time for herself. That right there is a dream of mine. It’s hard to put into words all that Jenna and her writing have meant to me.
When I found out that BlogHer 2014 was coming to San Jose, I knew I had to go. If you read my blog regularly, you know that money is a big problem for us. I sold the Oracle stock I had to buy an Early Bird ticket. I didn’t go just because I knew Jenna would be there. That was maybe half of the draw. I would really like to – pardon the marketing speak – take my blog to the next level, and I believed that attending BlogHer would help with that. But I was still fangirl-excited at the thought of meeting Jenna. We are friends on Facebook (although she might un-friend me when she reads this), so I messaged her asking if there was a chance we could meet. She was quite cordial and said she was sure we could, though she’d be working. (Jenna works for BlogHer.)
As BlogHer approached, so did my moving date. I wasn’t able to do all the pre-conference networking I would have liked. I almost talked myself out of going when I couldn’t find my iron to iron my pants. However, I knew I had to meet Jenna, and I couldn’t waste the money. So, I went.
I had basically two fantasies in my head of what meeting Jenna would be like. The first, and, I thought, most likely:
Jenna is at a table with a group of a super cool bloggers. I walk up and say, “Hi Jenna, I’m Robyn.” She smiles blankly, shakes my hand, and says “Hi” clearly not knowing who I am, then goes back to her super cool bloggers.
The second, which I knew was never going to happen:
Jenna is at a table with a group of super cool bloggers. I walk up and say, “Hi Jenna, I’m Robyn.” She smiles warmly, hugs me, and introduces me to the super cool bloggers, who immediately accept me as the newbie to their group and treat me kind of like a pet for the rest of the convention.
What actually happened was something in between.
BlogHer’s theme for the year was “Selfiebration.” I had to take some selfies to enter some contests, and, when I posted one on Instagram, I saw one of Jenna. So, I knew she was in the same room. I wandered for a bit, and saw a familiar-looking, hapless guy in green also wandering. I walked up to him and asked, “Are you Josh Hatfield?” Somewhat surprised, he said, “Yes.” I said, “I’m Robyn. I’m an online friend of Jenna’s.” We chatted for about 1 minute, tops. I think he thought I was a crazy stalker person.
I then tweeted:
(I never said I wasn’t a crazy stalker person.)
Not long after, I found Jenna, standing in the midst of a group of super cool bloggers. I walked over to her, and said, “Hi, Jenna…” and Jenna stuck out her hand and got a generic look of pleased-to-meet-you on her face. Then I finished the sentence with, “I’m Robyn.”
And the handshake hand fell and she actually hugged me!
Jenna Hatfield actually knew who I was, was relatively happy to see me, and hugged me.
That made me happy.
I was all awkward fangirl. The theme of the night being Selfiebration, she took a selfie of us. Somehow, I ended up looking like an 83-year old woman. But whatever. Jenna looks great.
(Seriously. I look like my grandmother. And she’s not even genetically related to me. WTF? Is it the paisley? Because I like paisley. But if I look like my grandmother, maybe the paisley has to go.)
I told Jenna several things that I had wanted to say but never got the guts to email or message to her:
- That I wanted to be her when I grew up.
- That she totally opened my mind and changed my view about so many adoption-related topics.
- That she is an inspiration to me.
Jenna actually conversed with me. What surprised me most about this was her voice. Years ago, Jenna posted a clip of herself singing a Christmas carol in her church’s choir. I want to say it was “O Holy Night” but I could be wrong. I listened to it. She has a beautiful voice. (Cue thoughts of us doing karaoke together.) So, whenever I read her writing, I hear that voice. Well, Jenna actually has a Pittsburgh accent that has been watered down by years of living in Ohio. Basically, she sounds like my mother’s cousins. There’s totally nothing wrong with that. It just surprised me.
Somehow, the topic of my son came up, and I told Jenna that Jackson knows who she is. She almost cried. I awkwardly changed the subject to popcorn, and that lead to a brief discussion of swelling, cankles, and then to some personal information. On that note, another super cool blogger came to join the group, they got to talking, and someone texted me, so I just kind of melted away.
I really couldn’t have asked for more. I was pleased with my meeting Jenna Hatfield experience. Apparently, Jenna didn’t think I was a crazy stalker person, because she replied to my tweet the next day:
And that is the story of how I met Jenna Hatfield.