It hasn't been much over two years ago that I signed up for Twitter and subsequently became addicted. I chronicled my journey in my for the Wauwatosa Patch. In that column, I pointed out that Meg McKenna of the Tosa Chamber of Commerce was my first local follow.
This was serendipitous because through her, I met the editor of the Wauwatosa Patch, Jim Price and, well, here I am writing to tell you about my trip to the White House!
On Tuesday, the that I was a confirmed guest to the White House the next day for the first Twitter Town Hall meeting with the President of the United States and Jack Dorsey, a co-founder of Twitter. Of the 140 guests, about two dozen Twitterers, including me, were invited to a tweet-up after the Town Hall meeting that included Administration officials and Jack Dorsey.
My partner-in-crime, Carrie, and I went to the airport at 5 a.m. on Wednesday to begin this trip of a lifetime. There are tales of exit-row antics and a person starting some trouble on the plane, but I will fast-forward to me standing outside of the White House for three hours in 90-degree heat and 1,000-degree humidity.
During this time, Carrie positioned herself in an air-conditioned restaurant and ate a decadent meal. At just the point when I thought I would start hallucinating from lack of food and water, the 140 attendees were led into the White House. There were three security check points, and then we were in the East Room.
More waiting, but this time I was in air conditioning and there was a chair I could sit in when I wasn’t wandering around in awe, looking at the paintings on the wall, admiring the military person playing a grand piano, or taking pictures.
In my daze, I missed the call for the tweet-up participants to enter the room for the Town Hall, so I ended up sitting separate from them. I was there to live tweet the event and some of those tweets were captured . I didn’t want to tweet what the president was saying, because people could witness that on their own, but rather, I wanted to tweet my experience – which, honestly, was no easy task for me.
It is extremely difficult to put into words, even if it’s only 140 characters, the energy, the atmosphere, the moment the president walks into the room and just how awe-struck I was with everything.
After the Town Hall meeting, the tweet-up folks were ushered to the White House Office Buildings for the tweet-up with Administration officials and Jack Dorsey. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend the tweet-up for very long as I had to catch a plane back home. But what I did witness was a group of people intent on engaging and contributing and learning.
This group was from all over the country – California, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey – and there were two of us from Wisconsin. And what we had in common was Twitter. It amplified for me exactly why I love Twitter so much. I love meeting new people. I love learning new things and exchanging ideas, and that is just what this tweet-up afforded. It was my first tweet-up outside of the Milwaukee area, and hopefully not the last.
After the Secret Service told me how to track back and find Carrie, we hopped in a cab, toasted the day with beer on the plane, and went back to real life.
While I was finding my way back to Carrie, I walked around to the front of the White House and made my way through the throngs of people congregated at the fence. At the end of the fence, I passed a family who had just finished taking pictures, and this little boy, around 7 years old, reached through the fence and grabbed a small branch with leaves on it.
He lifted it up and said with absolute wonder, "I have a dead branch from the president's lawn! It's from the president's lawn, and now I have it! I'm going to keep this forever!"
I could not help but stand there and grin. This little boy was able to express out loud exactly how I felt.