"It's all your fault!"
I laughed. Jackie is so dramatic. But she got my attention.
"What? What did I do?"
"One thirty in the morning! I was up until ONE THIRTY! And if my laptop battery hadn't died I'd have stayed up later!"
Okay. I know I was asleep at 1:30 am. I'm never up that late.
Jackie and I used to hang out at the family history center every Tuesday night when we lived on the Cape just a year ago. It was so fun. We became best friends. She'd bring me Dairy Queen Blizzards. I hid them whenever one of my children came in from playing in the gym. We would laugh and laugh about nothing. Truth be told, we'd get a kick out of listening to each other mumble not so nice things at the computer screens. I loved the occasional screech of "Agh! I found him!"
Family history centers are like productive and happy coffee shops. Everyone cares about what you're working on and almost everyone is a bit perplexed about something. It's not unusual to hand your chair over to someone who has been looking over your shoulder so that they can sit down and fix your mess.
I listened for about 10 minutes as Jackie told me story after story about her late night on Ancestry.com. You see when we worked at the family history center there was free Ancestry.com access. It was more than either of us could afford to subscribe to privately. We had two hours week of intense searching and printing. And laughing.
Finally I got to the bottom of her "complaint" against me. The day before, less than 24 hours earlier, she'd called frustrated that she hadn't been able to get to the center and she really wanted to work on some family history. I asked her what she wanted to use in there. Was it the microfilm, fiche, or Ancestry.com? It was Ancestry.
"Jackie, I have a subscription. You KNOW that! Use it. That's why I got it!"
I can't afford things until they become vital!
Ancestry.com is like that for me.
I waited while she got the Internet up and got to the Ancestry.com home page. I wasn't sure I remembered the user name and password, and she kept leaving her caps lock on. It took a few minutes before she screamed, "I'm in!" and I knew the conversation was done. It's like that when you have the family history bug. It owns you.
I giggled listening to Jackie tell me how much she loved "those little leaves" that pop up when the site finds new leads. She went on and on and on. She was like a breath of fresh air to my soul. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I so wanted to teach her some things that I'd learned. But as I started to I felt the shift in her telling me, "This is my moment! Let me enjoy it." Shut up, Betsy (me to myself!)! Don't say a word! Listen.
There has to be at least one of you who wants to use my Ancestry.com with me and Jackie, and some woman in Ohio whose name I can't remember. (We met over the phone by mistake last year. She uses it a lot. I just have to remember to tell her when I change my password.) I'd be thrilled if you do.
It's a lot more fun sitting as a group of friends in the family history center on a Tuesday night or Saturday afternoon, eating ice cream and laughing. I miss those days.
One of my other dreams was to buy a big Victorian house and set up a few rooms with computers and Ancestry.com, etc. I'd bake some bread and we'd have a blast just hanging out. You could pop in whenever and stay 'til whenever. But I go to bed really early so you'd have to lock up. It would be you, me. and all of those dead people! Problem is you'd have to live nearby!
In the meantime...please share my subscription.
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll send you the info. you need to start playing.
Update: As of today, Tuesday the 19th October, there are 2 new people using my Ancestry subscription. Two more and we'll have to set up a schedule so that we don't run into each other!
Update: Nov.15th: Hooked another one!
Update: Dec 11th: One more added!
Update: Jan. 9, 2012: One more added today!