I first met Ruth McNally Barshaw at the 2011 SCBWI Summer Conference. We’d been acquainted virtually for some months by virtue of my signing with Ammi-Joan Paquette the previous year, but that conference was where we met in person for the first time. In the digital realm Ruth (accurately) comes across as very wise, compassionate, and big-hearted, so I was very happy about meeting her. Like everyone, Ruth turned out to have dimensions that didn’t make their way into her online presence. For example, I was entertained to discover that she’s not just wise and soulful, but also hugely sarcastic and funny. She’s a sly and sharp observer of the foibles of humankind, is our Ruth.
We talked, and she invited me to join a group that was heading over to the food court across the street from the conference hotel. Ruth and I ended up strolling over there by ourselves, amusing ourselves with an elaborate, impromptu, totally fake story about Lisa Schulman running off to Malibu with a morally questionable hotel management professional. We sat together at dinner, and I admired her ability to partake in the slash-and-parry of conversation while simultaneously drawing everyone at the table in her sketchpad.
We’ve been friends ever since. Two and a half years after that first meeting, I find it impossible to imagine a life without Ruth’s friendship, which I’ve come to value beyond measure. That was a happy day.