Some of you might have noticed the link in my blogroll for Five Year Project. It takes you to Melissa Lombard’s site, where she is documenting her project of having a cup of coffee with a new stranger every week…for five years. I know. Great concept, right? Not only will she never run out of content, but she gets to meet a ton of people and try every coffee place in the city.
So who are the strangers? A mix of Austin notables, people active in social media, and regular ole’ slackers like myself. I’m not sure how she found me, but I was lucky enough to be the 29th cup of coffee. I was nervous because, frankly, I’m not that interesting. Some of Melissa’s interview subjects were so successful, or inspiring, or just oddly fascinating.
In comparison to some of these interviewees that were so brave and honest and forthcoming with their stories, I was afraid mine would be dull. I am not an open book, especially with strangers. I can be scornful of those who share too much too soon. But wasn’t that the point of the interview? Luckily, I only had a few days to panic, and before I knew it, interview day was upon us.
Melissa put me right at ease. She was like a long lost girlfriend and we had catching up to do. To be the one answering questions, rather than asking them, proved to be an obstacle for me. I can’t not make it about the other person. This probably points to some self esteem issues on my part, as well as a natural journalistic take on life. And really, I had to know more about her project. How did you think of it? How has it been? Have there been any bad interviews? Melissa graciously answered everything, gently steering the conversation back to me. Her interviewing skills are topped only by her writing skills.
So I got through the interview without any rehearsed stories or attempts at being more interesting. I relaxed and had a normal conversation. I was just boring old Kristin, but she still turned it into something remarkable.
For someone who doesn’t classify herself as a writer, Melissa Lombard is indeed a real writer, with the drive, vocabulary, and self-imposed deadlines that make all us writers tick. It’s amazing what can spring forth onto the page when one sets their ego and inhibitions aside like Melissa does. Her project is all about humility and looking deep into the stories of others, finding common connections in all of us. But it starts with her. She is the common thread in the project, the solitary voice through which the stories are spoken. Through Melissa’s eyes, we all look a little better.
So, please read my interview, but don’t stop there. Keep reading, through every cup of coffee and every stranger’s story. I am a big fan and know you will be, too.
It turns out, it only takes a cup of coffee to turn strangers into friends.