A proud Canadian, Susan McKenna (@SIOUXm6) now lives and works in South Carolina. Her Twitter feed is full of smart and funny and her guest room is fantastic.
Susan McKenna wasn’t part of the original crew of IRL Project participants. She and I have been friends on Twitter for a couple of years and if I’m guessing I’d say our conversation started when I found out that she spent the first six years of her life on Prince Edward Island. But I forced myself to have a very specific reason for each person I asked. There is a woman in Texas with a handful of followers, for instance, who pretty much only retweets other people, whom I will never unfollow because of how consistently she channels Jesus into my timeline. But that wasn’t what this project was about.
Susan was incredibly supportive nonetheless and told me that if I was anywhere near where she lived, to let her know. Which is why I DM’d her when I was looking at the hours from Atlanta to Virginia and realizing it might be good to break up the trip. “Will you remind me where you live? I’m driving north and would love to meet you if you are on my route.” Turns out she lives in Greenville, SC, two hours from Atlanta, and exactly on the way.
I messaged back when I stopped for gas and told her I’d get an AirBnB there and would love to meet for dinner. By the time I stopped again, I had this series of messages waiting:
- What’s an airbnb?
- I’ll help arrange whatever you need.
- I’m back in the office and looked it up. You can stay with me. I have a guest wing with your name on it, if you’re comfortable with that.
- Mi casa es su casa.
I have a guest wing with your name on it, if you’re comfortable with that.
“If you’re comfortable with that.” Yeah, you read that right.
It’s a chilly Halloween night and there are still trick or treaters on her street when I pull into the driveway. She opens the door and gives me a hug and helps me haul my stuff into her beautiful home. After unloading the cooler’s contents into her frig, she walks me back to my room, and she wasn’t kidding—it really is my own wing. She’s got a chalkboard with a welcome message and she’s printed out a couple of photos of KC icons (which I totally meant to snag). The bed has beautiful linens and there is music playing.
I’ve spent a lot of years on high alert, waiting for the other shoe to drop. When that’s your resting state, there are almost no words for a happy surprise like this.
The restaurant is downtown and I get to hear how she is the youngest of eight children, grew up and went to college in the Maritimes, and then moved to Vancouver on a whim – no job, no apartment, no security. Life unfolded as if that was all part of the plan, which is why she was willing to pick up and move to Greenville eight years ago when a job offer came.
She said her friends were horrified, but she knew it was the right thing to do. “I grew up on PEI with farmers. These are my people,” she says with a shrug.
‘I grew up on PEI with farmers. These are my people,’ she says with a shrug.
We talk astrology and religion, love, Twitter, life stories, and my fears about this project, while overlooking the truly lovely downtown. It’s late by the time we get back to the house and I need to leave at 6 am, so she does a quick debrief of breakfast options, coffee, etc. in case she isn’t awake.
And then she says, “I know it’s scary, but you can do this. You’re so lucky to have this freedom and to get to take this journey. It’s all going to work out great.”
I know it’s scary, but you can do this.
She hugs me and I walk back to my room, get ready for bed and set my alarm, thinking about what she said, how it feels like that is a truth that is settling into me, not yet deep in the roots of my soul, but certainly under my skin. I believe it even the next morning when I tiptoe through the house, lock the door behind me, and walk out to my car, which is covered in snow in South Carolina. I dig out the ice scraper from under my seat, contemplate the ways in which I may have underestimated weather as a factor, and laugh.