Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Chicago Six

It was a bit like deja vu, last weekend was. I had told my husband he needed to keep the entire time free for parenting duties. None of that lying down on the sofa of a Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours. Oh, and don't plan anything for the Friday night either. I didn't tell the kids what was going on until the day before though, as I knew it would be just like when Brit Gal Sarah and the hubster came up to Chicago last year.

This time it was:

Queenager: Meeting more of your stalker friends then?
Me: I know them. Don't be silly.
Q: Oh yes? We know what your version of "know" means. Have you actually met any of them?
Me: Yes, of course I have. I met them at that writing conference in London last year. (Lies upon lies. The "writing conference" was CyberMummy, and I only met one of them there.)
Q: Are we going to have a house full of people you met on the Internet then?
Me: No, They're staying downtown and we'll be doing the sites.
Q: Hmmmm....

So last Friday night I legged it downtown to meet some expat blogging gals - all of whom seem to have beaten me to the post and blogged about it already. Iota, Calif Lorna, Geeky Mummy, Nappy Valley in New York who flew in from various places in the States, and Nicola, who lives a few miles from me.

The Chicago weather was a tad brisk but the sun shone beautifully and Chicago looked very sparkly from my car windows as I gave the Saturday morning tour. We even drove past my house, although at a safe distance so you couldn't see the state of the windows.

I haven't talked so much for years. As Nicola and I left the hotel on the first evening, she wryly remarked, "Well absolutely nothing to talk about there then?",- so it wasn't just me who'd been astounded at how easy it had been to just jump in and well, chat. Sometimes, as an expat, you find yourself in a group of people you would probably run a mile from back in Blighty. Literally, the only thing you have in common is your country of birth. The Chicago Six, to quote Iota, was a very diverse group of gals, but we blended so well, and shared our lives with each other so comfortably.

And it was all over much too quickly for me.


  1. I've been reflecting on how we really did TALK. I think it's because (and I say this a bit nervously, so don't shoot me down too harshly) we are a bit conversation-starved over here. Americans talk in such a different way. I've tried to pinpoint it, but I can't. It's a subtle difference, but it's there, and I think when we all got together, we were like a bunch of addicts getting a fix.

    Nicola gave the perfect example. "Well absolutely nothing to talk about there then?" - brilliant, funny, ironic one-liner that sums the moment up perfectly. But you'd KNOW it was an English person who said it.

    I think the w/e proved that not all stalkers are bad stalkers - though that's not a lesson you want your teenager to embrace.

  2. I felt the same at Cybermummy last year and when I got back to the States I was quite low about it. The conversation over here is quite shallow in comparison. I have a few good friends here that I can really get into it with, but for the most part it's just gossip and chit chat.

  3. There really were no awkward silences, were there?

    I think it's partly, as Iota says, that it's a relief to have a really meaty Brit conversation, and partly that we've been reading each other's blogs for so long that you almost felt like old friends I needed to catch up with(although that sounds quite stalkerish, so don't tell the Queenager!).

    Thank you again for being the perfect tour guide....

  4. Even more bummed now that I didn't make it :-( Must start saving pennies for next year!

  5. It sounds like fun. As an ex-Chicagoan/expat from London, I wish I'd met all of you while I lived there.
    Perhaps when Nicola is back here, we can organise a 'meeting' in London. :-)

  6. this is simply adding further fuel to the 'stay in the UK' fire which seems to be outglowing the US at the moment. God will I ever make up my mind.

  7. Sounds like a blast, always good to catch up.

    CJ xx

  8. Glad you had such a good time. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  9. Thanks again for a lovely time, it was a true conversation fest!

  10. I'm meeting @shawncook this Sunday. She's moved to my area and I'm excited for her. I chat with her on Twitter and Facebook but really, is there any difference between that and being a pen-pal? Not so long ago people had pen-pals and to finally meet your pen-pal was a wonderful thing.

    Rich was joking with me today and asking how do I know Shawn isn't "psycho." I'm lucky I have good instincts about people. I knew I would like every one of you that I met in London and I was right. Still I would never meet someone for the first time in a private place. Just be smart, that's all.
    Imagine if you had listened to your naysayers and never took a chance on your weekend. What a shame to have missed such fun!

  11. Oh I wish I could have been there too, you have to do this again please next year!

  12. I never ever thought I would enjoy meeting up with my online friends as much as I do. It's really surprised me--pleasantly!

    I find it interesting to hear what several of you have said about the difference in conversation styles.

    I met up with Not From Around Here (American) a couple of days ago and we had a fantastic conversation from the moment we said hello till we were running late for our various other commitments. And when I meet with my close American friends back home--or family, we do converse well beyond chit chat and gossip.

    Is that because I've lived in England and so have been anointed with deep conversational skills?

    I think probably its just because I'm a really deep person.


  13. Ohh that sounds like heaven! I bet you had a great time. And such a great set of six it was!

  14. Michelloui - To be fair, it's probably more because of a shared frame of reference. Americans in the UK seem to say the same when they meet up with each other, so I'm sure it's not purely down to an English ability to converse better. (Grammar?)

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  17. Meeting people through my blog has made a HUGE difference in being an ex-pat in London. some of my favourite new people came directly as a result. And it's even better when you meet in person. good on ya! Queenagers, pffft, what do they know?!

  18. It was so much fun (sorry I'm so late commenting, I'm off to England next week and have been in a whirl of Christmas shopping!)

    I think we need to do a tour of everyone's states - California next?!


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