Guest post by Tracey Meyers
It's not a coincidence that my BFF of almost 25 years told me about a local "Meet the Author" event featuring Rachel Bertsche. Even though she's been gone from the area for several years, my BFF still somehow knows about all kinds of events going on in the area and will frequently send me e-mails about ones she thinks I would enjoy.
This time, her e-mail came as no surprise to me as I had just told her about a blog that was giving away a copy of Rachel's book, "MWF Seeking BFF." She knew I was quite interested in reading the book because even I have struggled over the years when it came to making new friends.
When I walked in the small auditorium at the Highland Park, Illinois library, I noticed Rachel and her husband standing at the back of the room. I wanted to say hello and let her know how excited I was to read her book; instead my inner wallflower quickly passed by them, took a seat and immediately e-mailed my BFF. The subject line simply said, "I'm Here." The body of the message continued my thoughts with "And feeling shy already! I want to go up to the author and tell her how excited I am about her book. Dorky I know!!!" What I also really wanted to say was, "I wish you were here," but I choose not to include that thought. Moments later, my BFF replied back and shared with me that she gets "star-stuck" at book readings and I wasn't dorky at all.
The event started out with Rachel reading three excerpts from her book. One from the introduction, one from halfway through her year of "friend dates" and one from closer to the end of the project. Then she opened up the floor to questions. The excerpt reading was the shortest portion of the event. Most of the time was spent in a question and answer session.
Amongst the many things that I found interesting about the evening -- remember this is a topic I'm greatly interested in -- was the fact that the demographic of those in attendance was more around my mother's age group than mine. Up until this event, I've failed to see that making new friends is an issue that affects woman of all ages. As I tried to balance my iPhone so the video I was taking didn't come out too jumpy, I listened intently to these women ask questions. What I liked about the questions being asked was that they didn't solely focus on the book itself. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of questions about the book and Rachel's journey which was interesting as well, however many focused on the ever changing dynamic of friendship itself and the different issues we as woman face when it comes to making friends overtime.
A woman sitting in front of me had a question that stood out to me. It focused on making friends later in life. I immediately thought of my mother and my observations of her friendships throughout my lifetime. Like me, my mother has many friends she's known a majority of her life, but she also has had to go out and make new friends as life ebbed and flowed. I will admit it wasn't until recently that I really understood where she was coming from and could truly appreciate her experiences in this area of life. This was one of many reasons I wanted to tap the shoulder of this woman sitting in front of me and let her know I had a great mom I could "set her up with," but opted not to do so as I wasn't sure if my mom was in the market for new friends.
After an hour had passed the floor was closed to questions. Rachel was going to now sign copies of her books. As I stood in line, a nice lady randomly asked me and the person standing behind me, "Can you tell how young people make friends in this area? My daughter just moved back to the area from college and she's having trouble meeting new friends." My ears perked up and I suddenly found myself engaged in a conversation about making friends as if I was an expert in doing so when the truth is I am nowhere close to being an expert in this area. The irony of this whole conversation is that I now have a "friend date" from that particular conversation. Or, if nothing else, at least a plan to meet someone to discuss how to make new friends. Funny how things work, isn't it?! I have to admit, I'll be interested to see if I myself make a new friend from this chance meeting.
When it was my turn to get my book signed by Rachel, I set down my copy expecting her to immediately open it up to sign. Instead, she warmly extended her right hand and said, "Hi, I'm Rachel." For a moment I was taken aback as this was the first book signing an author had ever done such a thing. It was a gesture that truly appreciated and made me feel as though I was actually talking with a friend.
I had only one question for Rachel which I had decided to save for when I met her face-to-face. Like Rachel, I met my BFF when I was young child. It wasn't until sometime in the past few years that I really recognized how rare it was to have a lifelong best friend as I did and I wanted to know what effect her year long search for a new BFF had on her existing BFF relationship. Did she come to appreciate it more as I have come to appreciate mine? Does she just assume after a short period of time her new friends will know her just as well as her lifelong friends do? After she answered my question we chatted for a bit further on this topic, she signed my book and graciously agreed to take a picture with me. By the end of the exchange I felt as though I had a new BFF ... or at least a new friend.
As I was getting ready to head home, I touched base with my BFF once again. I wanted to tell her all about the evening and how wonderful Rachel is. However, this time I didn't e-mail her -- I called. I wanted to tell her all this instead of writing about it. I also wanted to tell her thank you for all our years of friendship and for all the years of friendship to come. Unfortunately I got her voice mail. Since I'm not the best at leaving messages on voice mail I made things as short and sweet as I could. Something to the effect of "I had such a good time; I can't wait to tell you about it!" I didn't, however, tell her thank you which is why I am dedicating this post to her. She is my sister, a confidante and my rock. I couldn't imagine life without her.
Tracey Meyers lives in the Chicago suburbs and enjoys photography, running, roller derby, knitting and, of course, blogging. She is currently helping us with social media and blog stuff, so you may be seeing her around more often.You can find her at her personal blog. She apologizes for the absence of pictures, but the few that she took did not turn out well due to bad lighting.
Rachel Bertsche will be at Chick Lit Central tomorrow and some lucky readers in the US will have a chance to win "MWF Seeking BFF!"