Breaking Bread With Brad

I read blogs for several months before getting up the guts to actually start one, because I didn't think I had anything to say, and anyway, even if I did have something to say, I couldn't have a hope in hell of saying it as well as the people whose blogs I'd been reading. Eventually, during yet another sleepless night, my curiosity about this new thing overcame my shyness and I created a blog, wrote my first post, hit publish, and waited to see what would happen.

What actually happened was not very much, as (what seemed like) the entire blogging community (blogosphere, if you will…) upped and went to Austin, for SXSW 2000.

I don't remember if there was a Break Bread With Brad that year, or the year after, but I know that I'd read about SXSW and Break Bread With Brad every year, and every year I'd be consumed with jealousy at those who were there, and swear, next year would be the year I would go.

It took me seven years to make it there, and for many reasons, it's an experience I will never forget.

The day before I was due to fly to SXSW, I did a full day's work. I had to, I didn't have enough holiday, and there was certainly more than enough work needing done. After work, I went home, started packing, and, because I was so excited about finally getting to go to SXSW, I couldn't sleep. So I stayed up all night and did a quick redesign of my blog, hitting publish on the new design a whole 10 minutes before the taxi showed up to take me to the airport.

At 4am ish.

Fast forward a few hours, and I've made it to Austin, having not slept a wink on the flight. I'm completely wired from excitement but in that twitchy, been awake for more than 24 hours place too.

I should go for a nap when I get to the hotel and check in, but there's things to do and people to see and I'm in AUSTIN, BABY, YEAH!

We head out into the heat and chaos that is Austin in early March (we, being myself, Mike and Christine - two very dear friends who've made the journey from Houston to attend the conference and are serving as my guides to all that is awesome) and eventually, rock up at Break Bread With Brad.

I don't remember much of the detail, but I do remember meeting the man himself, and being greeted like an old friend, even though we'd actually met before. I know I'm not the only person who felt that way after meeting him for the first time.

I bumped into him a few times during the next few days, and each time he was the same - charming, welcoming and FUNNY.

I mean, I knew he had some game in the humour department - I'd read his blog for years, but the reading didn't even begin to compare to the real thing.

The last night of SXSW I found myself at dinner with a whole bunch of people, including Brad. Even better, I was sitting opposite him at one of the table.

I can't even begin to go into the details, mostly because I can't remember them exactly, but what I do remember is being very, very afraid of two things.

1. Of taking a mouthful of food, because it seemed that every time anyone got brave enough to put something in their mouth, someone would say something so profoundly hilarious that you'd either choke on it or spit it out.

2. Of actually peeing myself because I was laughing so hard.

Today, on hearing of Brad's untimely passing, I'm saddened, because I genuinely thought he'd go on, being himself, breaking bread with anyone and everyone, and doing it with every inch of the charm, wit and outrageousness he was known for, for many years to come. I honestly never thought that I'd only get the once shot at breaking bread with Brad.

He was a legend, and he will be missed.

…and if you didn't know him, you should listen to this audio file from Fray Cafe.

My Second Time - Brad Graham - Fray Cafe 9