In April 2013, the thing I'd been hoping for since 2009 finally happened. Here's what I learned.
  1. The best things in life happen when you don’t expect them.
    I went celeb-spotting outside the White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington Hilton with very few expectations. It was just down the road and might be fun. By 7 or so, I’d seen a few celebs and lots of pretty dresses. That was going to be plenty – I was happy enough to go home and watch the dinner on TV on C-Span. Until there was a rumour that the two men in the distance, chatting in the driveway like old friends, were Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford.
  2. Always look your best.
    I’d been running late(ish) and not been intending to be in any photos that day: I wore a nice dress, mostly on the off chance that I’d be able to sneak into the hotel, but I didn’t blow dry my hair. And I wore perfume, but not my favourite one. Always blow dry your hair. Always wear your favourite perfume.
  3. The fact that something isn't perfect doesn’t mean it’s going to be a let-down.
    He came up the escalator texting. My friend had been surreptitiously hiding behind a pillar and she called me over. I went up to him and said, “could I please get a photo with you?”. He said, of course. Then he apologised for being distracted by his phone. And I said – oh mortification – “that’s okay – not like I’ve been waiting four hours for you or anything!”. It was gentle ribbing in a charming British accent. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it sounds?
  4. I'll always want more.
    I sort of always knew once wasn’t enough. The plan was never just to meet him once. The plan was to become friends. Also, one of my friends asked me (jokingly, I think), “so, Claire – what did Bradley Whitford smell like?”. And I didn’t know. I didn’t know! Next time I will take these things in. And, I said the stupid thing about the waiting four hours and I want to redeem myself and say something nicer and less stupid. So yeah. I needed to meet him again. And we still needed to have dinner.
  5. Dreams come true.
    This is for the twelve-year-old in me who never got to meet Jason Donovan. Whose parents thought that front-row tickets to his concert were an unnecessary extravagance.
  6. When your dreams come true, you find out who your friends are.
    One of my friends simply posted, “this picture makes my year". Others retweeted the photo or tweeted to check I was still breathing. One of them passed my email with the photo around to everyone around her. All night the messages of congratulations (!) kept coming, then it was 2 a.m. and my UK friends starting waking up and posting too. At Church the next day people came up to me and hugged me congratulations. A friend of mine who had just had a baby said “but let’s talk about your big news!”.
  7. Always make sure your iPhone is charged.
    The moment and the buzz lasted because of the tweeting and the Facebooking. Sometimes, those things stop us living in the moment. Other times, they extend and magnify the moment and become part of it.
  8. The buzz of some moments lasts and lasts.
    I still can’t go past the Washington Hilton without smiling.