I’ve wanted to meet Sally ever since I first discovered her blog, Unbrave Girl, years ago.
I remember the first time I discovered her blog. I was working a part-time temp job where every day I’d come in for a few hours to do absolutely nothing. Seriously, at times I wondered why they hired me. They gave me very little work and supposedly hired me because I had an editorial background. But I hardly ever did anything editorial. And the work that they did give me didn’t take me very long. This was in 2011 right after I accidentally worked in a barn, my grandmother died, and I was thinking about starting a blog.
I also had a travel seed growing inside of me and I just kept helping it grow and stay alive by reading travel blogs. And since 85% of the time I had absolutely nothing to do at this part-time temp job I was working, I spent a lot of time surfing the web and reading blogs.
While reading a travel blog – can’t remember which one – I saw a comment from Sally. Then I clicked on her name, which led me to her blog.
That was the moment I became obsessed.
And I don’t just mean, “oh, cool blog” obsessed.
I mean, “I want read EVERYTHING you’ve ever written, friend you on Facebook, go through ALL your pictures, comment on ALL your status updates, retweet ALL your tweets, get a piece of your hair and put it in a zip lock bag and sleep with it under my pillow” obsessed.
OK, maybe not that hair zip lock thing. But believe me when I say, I was obsessed.
I love funny writers. And when you find someone who writes a not so serious travel blog and makes you laugh every time you read a post, it reminds you (and makes you feel OK) that travel doesn’t always have to be about skydiving, wrestling with snakes, not showering for days, or completely giving up things you love. (Was traveling ever about wrestling with snakes? Or did I just make that up?)
Unbrave Girl helped me understand that sometimes you need a compromise between uncomfortable and comfortable. Sometimes you need to sit on your couch and watch endless episodes of [insert your favorite TV series here]. But sometimes you need to get your ass off that couch and go for a walk and try something new.
I started to send Sally endless emails. I’m pretty sure she thought I was a lunatic. The emails usually went like this: “Blah, Blah, Blah. I want to travel and I LOVE you.”
When she started an advice column, and asked her readers to send her questions, guess who sent her a gazillion million 11 billion trillion questions?
Just go ahead and guess!
When she finally moved to the States I was determined to meet her. And then when she moved over to Michigan, I was really determined to meet her. I even made plans to visit her in Kalamazoo, MI back in January. But I ended up getting sick.
When she announced she was going to be speaking at the Women’s Travel Fest in New York City, I decided to go – mostly to test myself and make myself go somewhere alone, again. I’ve been to NYC before, but never on my own. I also convinced Sally to stay at the same hostel I was staying in. And we made plans to have dinner on the night she arrived, which was a day after I arrived.
She sent me a text to let me know she’d arrived on our dinner date night and we set a time to meet in the common room area of the hostel. I must admit, I was a bit nervous. I mean, this was the one and only Unbrave Girl. I felt like she knew me pretty well from the internet (which sounds totally creepy when you say it out loud) and so it was like meeting up with an old friend. Only replace old friend with awesome blogger girl who keeps getting nominated for bloggy awards.
We walked the Brooklyn Bridge, took pictures, and went to a pizza place.
On Saturday, the day of the Women’s Travel Fest, I wanted to leave super early. (I have a habit of leaving early to things – especially if they’re new and unfamiliar.) And Sally, well, thought I was crazy. She didn’t quite want to leave as early as I wanted to leave, so we agreed to meet at the event. Only the NYC subway was being weird and I was confused and ended up running into Sally at the subway station anyway. Seriously, it was like the Universe wanted us to go together.
Sally was a part of a panel discussion, but if you ask me, I think she should have just had the stage all to herself. Though the two other ladies she shared the stage with were quite interesting, too. She shared the panel with Sarah Shourd, who has a really powerful story about being imprisoned in Iran, and Mariellen, who is an India obsessed traveler.
You guys want to know what I learned from meeting Sally? She is just as funny on stage as she is in her blog posts. She had the whole audience cracking up. The lady who sat next to me started laughing every time Sally picked up the mic before she even spoke. I think the world needs an Unbrave Girl podcast.
She was so popular that after the event everyone wanted to talk to her. It took us forever to get out. I’m pretty sure she gained a few stalkers fans that night. And this public speaking thing seems to come natural to her. (Seriously, start a podcast!)
It was a pleasure to finally meet the woman who inspired me to start a blog in the first place. And we finally got a good picture instead of a two-person selfie (which wasn’t quite working out for us).
Have you ever met someone you internet stalked in real life?