I arrived at the Omellette Parlor in Santa Monica about 15 minutes late. Possibly later, because I parked so far away. I was trying to find Sarah and Rebecca, who I knew only from their messages on tuDiabetes and the pictures in their profiles. How hard could it be?
Confoundingly hard, in fact. It was only the day before that I confirmed that I’d attend the meet-up, arranged by Rebecca. But I didn’t have a phone number for either of them and for some reason, neither of them dressed in the same clothes they were wearing in their photos. I on the other hand, made sure to wear the same dorky hat and glasses I wore in my profile. For good measure I added my “Type 1” t-shirt. I decided to leave the tuDiabetes posterboard in the car as being over the top.
Inside the restaurant, which was full, either everyone looked like Rebecca or Sarah, or nobody did. It doesn’t matter which because I couldn’t find them. I wandered through the dining areas slowly and making a big show of looking around, waiting for someone to jump up and yell “Terry! There’s Terry! Over here! Over here!” Didn’t happen. Instead I got a snappy question from the hostess about whether I needed something (No thanks, I’m meeting someone I’ve never seen before) and distrustful glances from the people at the table I was standing beside.
Well, maybe I missed them. Maybe they couldn’t get seated and went somewhere else. Maybe I’ll go outside and sulk.
In mid-sulk a vision appeared in the doorway in a purple-tie-dye (I think) and a vaguely familiar face. “Terry?” “Sarah?” We flew into each other’s arms and . . . no, we didn’t. We shook hands in a very friendly sort of way and Sarah led me to the table where Rebecca waited. Rebecca looked just like her picture, so why in the hell didn’t I see her before? Sarah’s husband, Joaquin, was there too. A wise thing to bring a third party. (Sarah obviously listened to her mother when she told her to be careful about getting together with people she meets on the internet.) AND there was an empty chair for me! How nice.
The risk in meeting in-person the people you are merely acquainted with on-line is that they’ll turn out to be creeps. Or worse, that YOU’LL turn out being the creep. Speaking for myself, neither Rebecca nor Sarah is a creep. (Neither is Joaquin, for that matter. He’s a Type 3, btw, the s.o. of a diabetic.) We had a delightful time because they’re all delightful people.
As it turns out I am, at seven years diagnosis, a newbie. Both Rebecca and Sarah grew up with diabetes. Rebecca seems to have immersed herself in the world of diabetes support, especially emotional support. Sarah and Joaquin are newlyweds. (If I’m a newbie at seven years, then yes, they are newlyweds.) Sarah and I share an interest running and hiking. We’re all three pumpers. (Two MM’s and one Animas Ping.)
As a newbie, I haven’t had occasion to meet many other diabetics. I have to tell you what a difference it makes to sit at a table where other people are testing their blood sugars, talking about their meter and pumps and all that other diabetes stuff without having to describe anything to anyone. A ‘low’ needs no explanation - everyone knows what it is. We even looked at each others pumps. How cool is THAT? And no food police either. We’re much too polite.
So, after making life difficult for the waiter, we headed out to the Pacific Ocean. Rebecca changed into her shorts in the parking lot. It’s Venice Beach, you can do that kind of thing. Sarah kept her company, Joaquin and I provided cover at the back of the car. Then we strolled to the end of Ocean Park Boulevard and snapped a photo or two. It’s around here somewhere. I’ll find it. We exchanged numbers and emails and talked about setting up another meeting with even more people. Who knows? Maybe five. Six. Seven, even! We can dream.
If you get a chance to meet a tuDiabetes member near you - I recommend doing it. You may not end up being best friends, but if you’re lonely in your diabetes as I sometimes am, it’s nice to share with a live person or two. It’s okay to follow Sarah’s mother’s advice - be careful. Bring your Type 3 along. Your Type 3’s can amuse each other if you hit it off with your fellow tuDiabetes member. In case you don’t, coach your Type 3 ahead of time to say that you have to go now when you kick them under the table.
Joaquin never said they had to leave, so I guess I’m not a creep either.