I concluded Part One of this story by telling of a very special dinner with Jill Lorie Hurst and a few friends. As we left the restaurant that night, Bettie volunteered to see me home safely and we had time to continue our conversation on the subway. She's a wonderful storyteller who has led an interesting life so be sure to check out her blog for her stories of her recently concluded two year sabbatical in NYC.
The best way I know of to describe an event like this one is to say it's like a family reunion. Not the ones you brace yourself and go to whether you want to or not, but the ones you can't wait to get to because you know you'll finally meet those cool relatives you've only known through frequently shared stories. Looking around a room full of strangers you can't deny there's something familiar about them, the way you can see the expressions of loved ones in the face of a cousin you've just met for the first time. Some have experienced great joys during the previous year, some heartaches and challenges, but we've drawn strength from each other through all those silly little conversations on Twitter and sought each other out for a little encouragement and hope when we've needed it most. For many, like me, these encounters have been life changing.
As the room fileds up Jeryl Orsino (@JerylMusic) and her band stepped up to play. Jeryl's music has been featured on Venice, the Series so if you've watched that wonderful webseries, you've heard her music. I began to take a few pictures as they played and when I looked behind me to the rest of the audience I saw that Jessica Leccia, herself, had sneaked in - she's good at that!
After the music, Jessica began to go from table to table, greeting everyone, signing autographs & posing for pictures. Fans got pictures with Jeryl, too.
After a while Jessica sat down for a Q & A session and we learned a little bit more about her. This always gets a lot of laughs because Jessica has great sense of humor and a quick wit. Really, somebody needs to get this girl a sitcom!
There was time for one more question and I raised my hand. Jessica had been telling us about her daughter, Ivy, and of course her stories made me think of my two daughters, now 29 and 20, what they were like at three years old that gave me a glimpse what they might be like when they grew up. I can't remember exactly how I worded the question but it concerned what she would someday tell her grown up daughter about what she'd been like as a child. As soon as I asked the question, Jessica exclaimed, "Donna, why'd you have to go and make me cry!" When the Q& A was over I gave her a hug and we had a little "mom" moment, marveling at the miracle of daughters before she went back to signing autographs and posing for more pictures.
Everyone had gotten a packet that included an 8x10 photo of Jessica for her to autograph and a "Jessica Leccia" shot glass and a few other fun things. When I opened mine I also saw a handwritten thank you note from Jessica (I had made pin back buttons for the packets) but that note somehow did not make it home with me. I'm guessing my packet got switched with someone else's by mistake. If you went to the luncheon and ended up with a note from Jessica that says "Dear Donna, Thank you..." please let me know! I'm glad I at least saw it and made it home with everything else in the packet!
One of the highlights of attending Jessica's luncheon is meeting her husband, Brian Malloy, who runs Brother Jimmy's. He's a sweetie and it's so fun to see the two of them together because they just radiate love and joy. Many of us had met him before so he renewed old acquaintances and made new friends and posed for photos with Jessica and with the fans. You should stop by Brother Jimmy's the next time you're in NYC because Brian makes everybody feel right at home!
Then Jill Lorie Hurst showed up, joining in for the picturing taking, too, and visit with Jessica and Alan Locher, another member of the GL family.....
Just a few photos with some of my favorite people...
It's always a challenge to get a good group picture at an event like this but always worth the time and effort!