It started with blogs and then Twitter and Instagram. It was this weird look into some of the most interesting people I knew: Writers.
I was that little girl who curled up in the corner of a couch with a tattered book and dreamt of discovering enchanted homes in forests and going on adventures with well-spoken mice and running away to discover my family’s hidden past in Europe. I read and read and read. And then I’d finish the book, gasp and hold it tight to my chest, both amazed at the ending and heartbroken that my characters, my friends, left me sitting there on that brown couch. I would flip the page, hoping there would be something else, and I would find the About the Author. I was always enthralled by their photo, and loved knowing that they lived in West New Hampshire or New Mexico with their three dogs or pet slow loris. Back then, that was all 10-year-old, naturally-born stalker, me got as insight into this writer’s life. It killed me; I wanted so badly to be their friend and to have play dates with their children, who would, so obviously, be the most interesting and thoughtful children in the world.
And then came the blogs.
Not long into my venture with home Internet did I learn that my favorite authors were online, writing about their daily lives, their writing process and what they were making for lunch. “This is what they were doing an hour ago,” I remember thinking, a huge contrast into what I thought when I read their About the Author that I assumed was written at least a year before the book landed on my bookshelf. Blogs showed me what Ruth Reichl was baking that day. Twitter showed me what awkward moment Augusten Burroughs was experiencing today.
I think it was sometime during my food memoir obsession that I picked up “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg off a bookstore shelf. I read it. Loved it. Loved the stories and the prose and the way food and life were so beautifully intertwined, as it really is in every day life.
When I got to the end of “A Homemade Life” and had that all-too familiar feeling of satisfaction and sadness, I flipped to my beloved About the Author section hungrily, as if I were licking the last bit of chocolate icing off the cake platter. There — this one on the back cover — was Molly Wizenberg, her soft smile and long orange hair. Her paragraph mentioned her degrees and writing honors — and it mentioned her blog. My proud internal Internet stalker immediately devoured the posts on Orangette, the blog that lead her to writing her own memoir.
I’ve since followed Molly Wizenberg regularly on Orangette, as well as on Instagram, where I’ve watched the uprising of Delancey, the Seattle restaurant she and her husband own and operate, the birth of her adorable daughter and moments that passed in her kitchen as she wrote her second memoir, “Delancey,” about the trials and joys of opening the restaurant.
When I had the opportunity to go to Seattle this summer, it was only obvious that Delancey was No. 1 on my to-visit list. I went with my aunt and cousin in tow. They mocked me for being both excited and nervous about going to a pizza joint. As we stood across the street waiting for a table that busy evening, my aunt kept asking, “Is that the girl you know?” I would quickly respond, “I don’t know her, so if we see her, don’t say that!” Then my cousin would follow up with, “we’re so going to embarrass you.” They kept mimicking me, saying things like, “Oh, she bloggggs” or “We’re bloggairs.” They didn’t get that running into a writer or blogger or famous artist would be more of a celebrity moment than meeting someone like, um, I dunno, Steven Spielberg (random fact: I was working the commencement ceremony at CSU Long Beach the year Spielberg came back to graduate … I have pictures, but that wasn’t nearly as exciting as eating pizza at Delancey).
Molly wasn’t there that night, but her essence was there in the square printed photos of baby June on the walls, the single indoor plant, the glorious collection of cookbooks hovering over the open kitchen.
We dined outside on a Seattle night that got chilly as soon as the sun went down over the residential neighborhood where Delancey sits. We each ordered our own delicious pizzas and Moscow mules that were highlighted with the glow of candle light that kept flickering out with the breeze. We had prime people watching: A first Internet date, hipsters trying too hard, a couples’ dinner with his parents, lovers carrying out to-go boxes. It was a really great evening.
And later, Molly Wizenberg herself commented on my Instagrammed photo of Delancey: “This makes me so happy! Thanks for coming in,” she wrote.
My About the Author came to life. It made me smile — and my aunt and cousin, in unison, said, “Awwww.”