I am crazy. About the entire Lacey family. Patrick asked me to join them on my way home from a conference in Ohio last Sunday.
I had the great privilege of being welcomed into their home (technically, Patrick's sister's home) and it felt like I was one of the family from the start. Patrick ushered me through a sumptuous garden into the house, where he and I sat and talked (how long?) before sitting in the back yard with the rest of the family: parents, siblings, and other honorary family members.
Eventually we were called to the dinner table, where we were served two kinds of delicious homemade pizza and a salad. Conversation was brisk and witty. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so long and loud. (And I had only one glass of wine.) This is one sharp crowd; I had to pay close attention to keep up with the one-liners, wordplay and allusions. I told them about someone in the conference who had shown us great hospitality, but this family exceeded even that. They truly have a gift of hospitality: making me so at ease that I forgot my own anticipated discomfort. Patrick was solicitous and mindful that I was walking into a roomful of strangers; and yet it never quite felt that way. His sister warned, "This is Laceyland, the World's Scariest Theme Park." It was quite a ride, I grant you, but I never wanted to get off. I could do it with my hands in the air all the way. My cheeks actually hurt from smiling and laughing for so long.
After dinner, the guests went home and our hosts left Patrick and me alone to talk. And talk we did, about ourselves and our hopes. And yes, we talked about you—always kindly and with respect, for Patrick in person is just like Patrick online: intelligent, gentle, insightful and humble. We went on and on until the lateness of the hour forced me to finally admit I had to leave (about two hours after I'd figured we'd run out of things to say).
The evening with Patrick and his family will always be one of my favorite memories. I hope we can have more like it, whether in Indiana or not. My meetings with fellow bloggers have gone so well that I cannot wait for another. Who's next?