This is a good news, bad news, good news story. I went to the Bay Area Book Festival this weekend. That’s the good news because I love the book fest, and it didn’t disappoint, with great author talks sparking interest and creativity about a variety of topics.

The first time I went alone to Berkeley to check it out. I had written my first book and was considering trying to publish it, toying with actually calling myself a writer, and I went to see how it might feel to be around other writers. It felt great! But the festival is as much about being a reader and a thinker as it is about being a writer. Probably more so.

My second time attending, I invited my husband to join me. We went to a few talks together and some apart, depending on what interested each of us. That was fun because I had someone there to talk with about the sessions. And to eat lunch and dinner with.

This year, I had grand plans for the festival, and here is the bad news part of the story. My mom was scheduled to come visit, and my mom loves books, so we planned to go together, except she ended up canceling her trip to California for a variety of bad news reasons. So kind of a constellation of bad news there.

Ken and I rallied from that bump in the road and had fun planning and preparing for which sessions we wanted to go to together and apart, and we made dinner reservations for Saturday night. And then, on Thursday, Ken tested positive for COVID. So no festival for him. Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone either, but I felt fine, tested negative on Friday and Saturday and Sunday, and wore a mask. And I really, really wanted to go! But not alone. I’m fine doing things alone. I do things alone all the time. But I was excited to share this experience with others, so I was bummed to do it alone. So that’s all the bad news part, obviously.

So back to good news, which is that I made a new friend waiting in line for my first chosen session, entitled “A Life in Books.” She was at the festival alone, too. We talked while waiting for the session to start and had so much in common. Then we went our separate ways to enjoy our chosen sessions for the rest of the day. I loved that neither of us adjusted our plans in any way, yet we clearly clicked and enjoyed meeting each other. The second day of the festival, we met for coffee before the day’s events started, and could have talked long past the one hour we had allocated for talking. Unfortunately, she doesn’t live locally, so she won’t be a regular in-person friend, but I do hope she will be someone I stay in touch with and maybe see again.

It made me reflect on the other great friends I’ve made in recent years. Psychology-minded friends I met in grad school, writing friends I met when I started that endeavor. It makes me grateful, first of all, to think about crossing paths with these amazing, courageous, intelligent, inspiring women. It also makes me aware of how powerful it is to pursue what you are interested in and to meet others who share your passions. I didn’t set out to make friends in these areas necessarily, but I was doing what I loved and I was open to connecting with people who crossed my path.

It also makes me appreciate being out and about in the world because I would not have met any of these people in the virtual world. Probably because I don’t like the virtual world, don’t feel that same sense of connection that I do when I am physically in the same space as someone else. Certainly not when I’m first meeting people. There is nothing like face-to-face encounters for meeting people, at least not for me.

So it was an unexpected way the weekend turned out. Sad to leave Ken sick at home and sad that my mom wasn’t with me, especially when attending the session about awe, which both of them would have loved and which will be the topic of my next blog. And my mom would have loved the session about nature and time, and the one about mothers and daughters. But I was excited and inspired by what I learned and happy to make a connection with a new person.

Good news, bad news, good news. It is the nature of life. That ebb and flow to which I am learning to surrender.