I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy when we really started getting into that whole internet thing. I remember how cool it was to use that new fangled electronic mail thing–I spent a lot of time swapping insults and trash talk with a friend from high school who was a cadet at our rival, West Point. People started “meeting” people online and developing friendships…and more.
Personally, I found that a little…weird. I didn’t get how you could fall in love with, or even just be good friends with, someone you’d never met. How could you really know someone without meeting them face to face? One of my Academy classmates started dating someone he’d met online, and they were quite serious before they ever even were in the same state together. I just didn’t see how that could work.
Well, obviously it did, since they’re still happily married 14 years after graduation, with a couple kids. And I’ve seen it work closer to home; it’s how my youngest brother found his wonderful wife. Now, Steve and I met the old-fashioned way (college sweethearts), but I have now learned how a meaningful relationship can be formed across the Internet.
It started with Ravelry. I’d signed up for the great Notebook and database features, but then I found several communities I could connect with. One of the earliest one was the NASCAR group. I was especially thrilled to find this group, because while I share my football obsession with my husband, I haven’t yet converted him to the realization that cars going fast and turning left is awesome. Now I and several fellow NASCAR-loving Ravelers watch the races “together;” we chat online as we watch and knit and it’s almost as good as actually being in the same room together. And I would know–some of us went to Rhinebeck together, and we spent Saturday night watching the race and it was the same feel as when we watch “together” online.
The other group I find myself spending most of my time with formed around my favorite indie dyer, Three Irish Girls. Originally, it was just great to have a group I could wax eloquent about a depth of a given colorway with and have them understand (Steve has a hard time just keeping from looking at me like I’ve sprouted a second head). Now, we have a blast chatting about anything and everything under the sun.
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On Friday, I had my thyroid removed. In the days beforehand, I received so many well-wishes from online friends that it was almost overwhelming (in a good way!). I was placed on church prayer lists around the country. I even had to make arrangements so my friends could keep track of how I was doing; Steve would tweet updates to my account, and my good friend Jean would copy the information over to both the NASCAR and the Three Irish Girls groups.
A few days before my surgery I found an envelope addressed to me from an address I didn’t recognize. I opened it up and was stunned to find a gift certificate for maid services. Several of my friends from Three Irish Girls had banded together and decided that since they lived too far away to drop by and help out while I was recuperating, that they’d help me out this way by taking this concern off my shoulders. Steve walked into the kitchen to find me in tears holding the gift certificate; I had to give him the card to read because I couldn’t speak.
Then, when I got home yesterday, Steve handed me a large package. I opened it to find a beautiful hand crocheted and knit afghan done in my favorite cool jewel colors. Usually my NASCAR friends spend their time working on afghans for the Victory Junction Gang Camp, but they’d taken some time off to make one for me as the best way to wrap me in a long distance hug. I’m curled under it right now, as a matter of fact.
Most of these people I’ve never had a chance to meet in person, but Steve summed them up the best when he said simply, “You’ve got some really great friends.”
Yep. The best friends I’ve never met.
Author’s disclaimer: the preceding post was penned under the influence of percocet, so I make no claims to eloquence!