Reading www.dervala.net (a blog I've been reading on and off for a couple of months) one day I was struck by a compulsion to mail the author and tell her that I (enviously) enjoyed reading her entries and way with words.
Delightfully, she wrote back and a brief but entertaining e-mail conversation followed. When she mentioned she would be passing through London for a few days at the start of a long bout of travelling (can you have a bout of travelling, I believe I may be making it sound like malaria) I decided I'd like to meet her, to see if the lines of a blog accurately sketch the real person.
Surprisingly (I couldn't help but imagine myself being imagined as some pale, wan geek, wedded to a broadband connection and a crate of Pot Noodles) she agreed and we arranged to meet up on Sunday night.
I wasn't going to be nervous - I'm a competent, capable, adult, I have many friends, sometimes I even feel like a winner - I was really looking forward to an excellent random venture. I had a fabulous weekend of seeing wonderful friends and having a great time and pitched up back at home just an hour before I was due to meet her.
Then the fear started. I don't know specifically what fear I had, maybe fear that she would be an impossibly high maintenance Manhattanite asking for cocktails I'd never heard of in a run-down Marylebone boozer, perhaps a fear of feeling like a loser in front of a glamorous urbanite who ran her own website and strode in designer shoes around the globe with dotcom millionaires, fear that I wouldn't even recognise her and she'd walk straight past me. Whatever the source, the fear reduced me to pacing nervously around Baker Street Tube ticket hall, barely able to swallow, continually repeating the opening lines of pre-planned conversations in my head.
The worry was pointless, none of the fears were realised. The evening was wonderful from the moment she confidently strode up and introduced herself to the moment three hours later when she said goodbye, take care, stay in touch, good luck.
And now I'm left happy and sad. Sad that someone whose company I thoroughly enjoyed has walked out of my life as rapidly as she walked in and I've no idea when or if I'll meet her again, sad that maybe three hours is all I'll ever get. But happy that there are still marvellous people out there and that I know one more of them, that I can meet them through my own actions and that life will throw up serendipitous delights if I let it.