That time I “met” John Green


photo 3

Two weeks ago, I almost moved back to Indiana.

One Saturday morning, I broke down. While crying in the shower I kept thinking of how little time I have to write, how many dreams are out of reach, and how much I miss my family. Then, as my tears soaked into my shaving cream, I had an idea. A brilliant epiphany!

I would go home.

It was obvious, really. Don’t I belong in Indiana?

Isn’t it a part of my soul? Have you seen me shuck corn?

I mean, I was one of the few kids in high school who didn’t go on and on about wanting to leave our town. (I think this is the main talk for high school kids everywhere, but kids who live in LA, you’re not fooling us. Stop acting like you can pull off the leave-this-small-town-in-the-rear-view thing.)

Twenty minutes after this epiphany my plan was underway. I prayed about it for at least 100 seconds. Obviously, I had carefully considered every scenario.

I told my family I was coming home. I don’t think they believed me, something about taking time to think about it. I don’t know. Whatever.

My dad was impressed that I felt the same way the next day; he told me he’d fly out and help drive me back.

Back. Back to Indiana. Indiana here I come.


In the grocery store a few days later, I had another epiphany. You see, that whole week I had been pleading with God. I said, “Okay, God, I don’t need the whole picture, but if you want to give it, go ahead. That would be great. But just this next step. What am I supposed to do now? Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Especially if it’s Indiana. I’m pretty sure it’s Indiana. Tell me if it’s not Indiana because I’m going home now because you won’t tell me what to do and we’re done talking but I trust you and I’ll trust you in Indiana. Okay? Amen.”

In the canned items aisle, when I quieted down for 2.5 seconds and you know, listened, God was like, “My sweet child, I’ve told you. I told you.” And then I was flooded with memories. Like, cue the Rom Com montage of wiping éclair cream off noses and holding hands in front of sunsets and riding bikes with ridiculously huge baskets. Like, cue all the times I knew I was supposed to go to California. Cue the times I trusted that I would be a writer and looking out my window at the huge oak and believing that if it could do its best to reach the sky, so could I.

Yes. I cried in that grocery store.

Yes. I cry during predictable romantic comedies. (Sorry.) (I’m not that sorry.)

I called my mom: “I’m staying here. Don’t let me leave. Don’t help me leave. I’m not happy about it, but I’m staying here because, you know, God’s plan.”

Mom: “Okay.”

Me: “Uuuuuuugh. Mom! I’m staying! Hello.”

Mom: “Okay?”

Me: “I want to come home.”

Mom: “…”

Me: “… Fine! I won’t! I’m staying!”

I spent the night not quite ready to think about what staying means. The next day, I stood on the noble ground of not quitting; even if I’m not moving forward, there’s something to be said for simply not letting go. The day after was a Friday, so already things were much brighter. (I also bought a ten-pound bag of chicken breasts from Costco, so again, things were much brighter.) (Ten pounds of chicken for one person.) (I’ll probably post pictures of my Mark Wahlberg guns next. Nbd.)

And then, it was as if I slowly came back.

I made a thanksgiving list. That list was full of answered prayers, future dreams, and so many good people. That list made me realize that maybe my life isn’t so bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still in the dumps about a lot of stuff, but my ultimate, bottom line was that it’s going to be okay. I’m going to get through my job. There’s a reason I’m here.

And then John Green came into the picture.

I’ve applied to jobs at DFTBA a few times because well, we know how I feel about John Green as a Hoosier, an Indy Car fan, and an author. I was never expecting to hear back, but on Wednesday I got an email from his personal assistant asking me to chat on Skype.

I went all “hettawhattapersonalassistant she talks to me?” And she was all “I want to talk to you too, but you’re actually speaking to John.”

And I was all “Holy s***!” Arms flailed. Legs buckled.

I heaved myself off of the floor (of my cubicle), and as the tears and mucus cascaded over the curves of my smile, I was filled with thanksgiving once more.

I’d like to say a lot of this thanksgiving had to do with John Green (and it did), but most of it had nothing to do with John Green. It was more about every step that had led me to that point. It was about every chance taken, every step of faith, and the people I know and love.

My interview with John Green was ten minutes long, and they weren’t earth-shattering minutes. I made him laugh twice (once intentionally). I didn’t say anything groundbreaking. (If we’re being honest, neither did he.)

But I got to speak to one of my favorite authors. Just him and me.

He said some nice things. I said some okay things. We said goodbye. And I realized: things can change in a freaking instant.

I realized how much I love my life. Today. I realized how much God’s doing and will do. I realized that when God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” He’s not condemning me to his will; He’s saying, “hey, you! You want a life that’s BETTER than you could ever hope for? Good, follow me.”

And I realized I belong here. I don’t mean in California (though right now, that’s where). I don’t mean in this job (though right now, that’s where). I mean, I belong right in this sweet spot of thanksgiving. I belong waking up early to write and lingering at Sunday brunch and sending happy texts and crying in the grocery store over and over and over until I get that this, right here, is it. This is joyful. This is peaceful. This is where a greater-than-I-could-imagine life happens. I belong right here, and I’m not leaving. No matter where I go, no matter what I do, I’m not leaving this spot.

searching for john green

So I haven’t met John Green.

Despite being from Indianapolis.

Despite looking for him every time I’m at the Indy airport.

Despite showing his picture to my family just in case they see him in Indianapolis and can tell him who I am (because then he’d remember it forever).

In fact, my family is completely unhelpful. Rhett even said, “He looks like any other man I’ve ever seen in Indianapolis.” Excuse me, Rhett? Do you have eyes? Do you even care about this at all? “No,” he’d say.

Despite all of this, I have imagined meeting John Green for some time now…

I walk around the Indy airport, about to leave to go back to California. Maybe it’s summertime. Maybe it’s not.

Mom & Dad dropped me off early, so I’m walking along looking at the work by Hoosier artists displayed in glass cases because that’s what I do at the airport. (I do not utilize as much of the free WiFi as possible. No.)

In the reflection of the glass I see a puff of hair. A big hair puff. And under this hair is the leader of Nerdfighters: Mr. John Green.

I turn.

Me: You’re John Green.

JG: Hi. How’s it going?

Me: Really great! How are you? How’s it- how you?

JG: I’m well.

Me: I’m not a crazy one. The people who hyperventilate because they’re so excited to see you. I mean, they aren’t crazy because they’re just super excited to meet you because you’ve made a huge impact on them and that’s cool I just mean that I’m not like that I mean, yes, I’m a fan, and- and- and- and- and- Oh gosh.

JG: Thank you.

John Green starts to walk away. This is worse than Ralphie seeing Santa. I have to think fast.


John Green turns back and smiles a little.

Me: I love the vlogbrothers and what they stand for. I participate in Esther Day. That’s one of the coolest initiatives, and you’re you’re you’re a great writer as well.

John Green nods.

JG (telepathically): Yes. Yes, I am.

Me: I could maybe babysit your kids sometime, or go to lunch with your wife.

JG: No.

John Green walks away.

And that would be it.

Even in my imagination, this interaction does not go well, but I will continue to imagine. I will still look around at the airport. I will still show my family his picture.

I will still pretend to think that if we met, we would be friends because… aren’t we already?

Isn’t that what happens when you are pulled into a world that someone creates? You read and watch, and suddenly you know who they are. And they know exactly who you are because what they’re saying verbalizes all of the feelings you have and even the ones you didn’t know you have. That’s what’s so cool about telling stories and sharing them. The stories and storytellers become almost as dear of confidants as the people who are actually around us. Reading and watching is as comforting as a hug from a good friend.

So even if a real meeting with John Green would go as spectacularly terrible as the one I’ve imagined (and most likely it would), it’s okay because we’re friends already (he just doesn’t know it yet).