Friday, August 19, 2016

Thoughts From the Back Porch: My Visit with Small Talk, SLP

I know how busy people are these days and catching up on the blogs can be a task. This post will likely be lengthy, however to truly do it justice, it has to be told in full. This is a story of friendship, so I'll spare no words. 

It all started several years ago, when my soul sister and I started sharing photos and quips on social media. We had been liking and commenting on each other's SLP-based photos back and forth for a while, when one day I posted an activity using some winter themed stampers. My social media and SLP compatriot "hearted" the photo and expressed how she liked the stamps. I had ordered them from Oriental Trading and received triple of each stamp, I think, so, I asked her if she wanted a set. She was thrilled and I was happy to send them across the country to brighten her day. The rest, as they say, is history. A cross-country friendship between Small Talk, SLP and Doyle Speech Works was born, moreover the relationship between Pam and Annie has flourished ever since. 

I remember the first time we chatted in real time via instant messenger. I was cooking dinner and we started getting to know each other outside of the public eye. The times we chatted became more and more frequent and open, sharing bits of our lives, our joys, and our frustrations. Now barely a day goes by where we don't touch base, even if it's brief. After a particularly grueling day for one of us, we wished we were sitting on the sofa together with a glass of wine. I remarked that one day that dream would become a reality. Time passed, as it does, and Pam sent me a message asking if I really meant it, would I really come to Oregon and visit? I did get a little nervous, not about the visit (well maybe a little), but about time and money, kids and work. I thought April 2016 would work, alas, no such luck. June arrived and I thought it was high time for an adventure! Now I was waiting on my husband, could he get the time off after recently starting a new job? No he couldn't, but I could! The time was right and on June 30, 2016, I found myself on a plane Oregon bound! YEEHAW!!! When I arrived in Portland I headed to retrieve my baggage and I heard, "Annie?" I turned and saw Pam! We embraced and held each other and were both filled with such emotion! I cannot even describe it adequately. We hopped in her car, started talking and never once did we run out of things to talk about. There was never an uncomfortable moment. Why would there be, we had already bared our souls for years. Now our families? Our families trust our judgment, yet there were a few comments from both sides (What if she's nuts? You're going to let her stay here?). We already knew, though. We were connected.

Our adventures began with what all SLPs do when they visit each other from across the country, a children's book and toy store!! Yes, we both walked out with items for therapy. 

We proceeded to Industry Restaurant for happy hour, a well earned margarita, salsa and guacamole! Simply ambrosia after a day of travel from the east coast to the west. Pam's husband met us there and I loved him the moment we met! We returned to their lovely home and shared our love of fine food by cooking dinner together. It was early to bed for me still not having adjusted to the time differential. I slept comfortably and happily, blissfully exhausted.

The next day began with a lovely 2 mile walk and face to face conversation! Pam invited me to observe her therapy session (with parental permission of course) which was a real treat. What a wonderful experience seeing an incredibly gifted SLP at work. I loved it and wish we had more opportunity to observe each other and collaborate not just with materials and ideas, but practice. Following therapy we headed to Portland for some sightseeing. Portland is bustling and everyone appeared so healthy and active. I love a city. There is just so much to do. We began at the International Rose Test Garden and then headed into the city proper for a visit to Powell's Books, the Food trucks (we went to the grilled cheese truck. Oh My!), and a walk across Tilikum Crossing for a view of Oregon's Bridge City. Naturally, no trip to Oregon is complete without a stop at a brew pub. I can't remember the name of the one we visited in Portland, but while I was there I didn't meet a brew I didn't like. Yummy!!
International Rose Test Garden
Bridge City, Portland, Oregon
Powell's Books: So many books, miles of books, so little time!
Saturday was reserved for hiking. I love to hike and so do Pam and her husband. In fact, we talked frequently about hiking together (I wish Jim had been able to join me). We live in NH, and the hiking is wonderful, but nothing had prepared me for the Pacific Northwest. It was like hiking in Middle Earth, lush and green and majestic. It is beyond compare and beyond words. The day was absolutely perfect and the hiking sometimes steep, yet manageable. I did almost fall backwards down a mountain, when I looked up at a view and stepped back! Gave us all a scare and Pam was grateful she didn't have to call my husband to tell him she lost me down a cliff! We had worked up quite an appetite (and thirst) after hiking, so we went to McMenamin's in Edgefield for a burger and, you guessed it, a cold brew! The focal point of McMenamin's, aside from the spectacular gardens, artisans, and outbuildings, is a hotel that is a restored county poor house built in 1911. The history, architecture, and artwork is remarkable.
Hiking the splendor that is the Pacific Northwest
Sunday morning brought church. To share this moment with my friend and her husband after all we had shared over the years is beyond description. Suffice it to say, I was overwhelmed. Following church was another delicious brewery and restaurant, Ancestry. The gustatory memory of my chicken sandwich and brew is still vivid. I am going to try and replicate that sandwich at home.  My amazing hosts then shepherded me off to the Anne Amie Vineyard in the Willamette Valley. Wine, oh sweet, wine, and vistas like no other. I left with a bottle of Prismé we still haven't opened. I'm waiting for just the right moment. 

Monday was July 4th and Pam and Dan were prepping a barbecue for their children. It was another picture perfect Oregon day, with wonderful weather and even better company. I went to bed fairly early knowing my adventure was coming to a close. I had to leave at 3:30 in the morning to get to the airport and Pam was gracious enough to drive me. 
Red, white, and blue!
Frequently, social media is viewed as a black mark, and it can be, but it's a tool. If it's used in the way it was intended it affords us the opportunity to find information and establish meaningful relationships. I think of my experiences as the modern day version of writing pen pal letters. Many a relationship was forged via pen and paper and the relationships I have made are truly no different. Perhaps the chance to talk daily vs. weeks or months even enhances those relationships. I have spent many a summer morning on this very porch enjoying coffee with my girls. Some may view my trip to Oregon (and my trip last year to Ohio) as a leap of faith. When Pam and I discussed this possibility we agreed; nah, it wasn't a leap of faith, it was meant to be and the natural next step in our story. Our story. To be continued...


  1. I absolutely LOVE this! SO glad you two got to finally meet!!! And THIS is what it is ALL about!!!!

  2. My husband will usually mention something about an Eastern European man posing as a woman when I've met online friends!
    That is sooo cool that you got to see Pam in action! What a special treat!!!
    What an amazing time y'all had!!!!

  3. What a lovely story! I'm so glad you got to meet!

  4. I loved reading this special post! So grateful for you Annie!