Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Internet: It's Better in Person

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I haven’t really felt like I’ve had a lot to say or a lot going on, though.

Now, I have a tale to tell that involves a mutual love of spelling, grammar and those strangers you meet over the internet who turn out to be real, regular, everyday people just like yourself.

Back in September 2007, I stumbled upon a little website called cafemom.com. I joined and began to “meet” people. After a while, I began to run into the same people over and over again and started to see them as regular moms like myself. Struggling with potty training, bottle-feeding, sleep deprivation, etc. But, beneath the mom fa├žade, there were real people, some of whom I found loved the same types of things I did, and still do.

Cafemom is composed of thousands of little groups that speak to a wide variety of interests. I happened to type “spell check” into their search box and was directed to a group where the other moms had an affinity for proper spelling and grammar just as I do. I began to get to know the ladies within that group and we eventually developed a several friendships. We began calling each other by our own real, legal names instead of our screen-names. I got closer to a couple of ladies than I did to others.

Eventually, I found myself getting a little bored with that particular group and decided to leave it. A few months later, a different group was formed with many of the same ladies from my spell check group, but the group’s focus was friendship and the bond that many had developed with others.

I’ve been a member of that offshoot group for about 14 months now. Several of the women have grown very close, and some talk on the phone almost daily. We text each other, feel each other’s happiness and hurts and call on each other in times of crisis. We rejoice in the birth of a friend’s newborn child and we cry and hurt with and for one another when one of us has a hard time.

I had to say all that so I can tell you what I did yesterday; to lay some groundwork, so to speak.

I’m writing this blog post as we cruise down Interstate 80 in Iowa. Yesterday morning, we woke up in Chicago and headed towards Davenport, IA. Two years ago, I had no business in Davenport. Now, I have an honest to goodness friend who lives there.

You see, one of the very first women I met in that spell check group lives in Davenport. I sent her a text a few weeks ago and asked if she and her family would be around on June 22, and, if so, would it be okay if we dropped in for a face-to-face meet up. She replied with a very exuberant “YES!” and we made our plans.

We arrived at her house around 5:45 and hopped out of the van. I was busy unbuckling The Noob from her carseat when I heard, “I see you!!!” I stopped what I was doing and turned and looked. And then, I ran to my friend. There was much squealing and giggling and “You’re really real!” and then more squealing and hugging. Oh, there was tons of hugging! *squeeze-squeeze-squeeeeeeeeeze* [more screaming and jumping up and down]

It was even better than I imagined it in my head.

After the initial screaming and jumping up and down ceased, we began introducing our children and spouses to each other. I’ve seen pictures of her girls online. They’re gorgeous girls. But they’re even better in person. They’re smart and witty and just downright fun kids to be around. Our husbands sat and talked and drank beers and got along like they’d known each other for years. She and I talked and giggled and talked and giggled some more, and had the intermittent pause to perform motherly duties such as changing stinky diapers. The kids ate their pizza and played in the yard like they’d known each other for their entire lives. They all changed into their swimsuits and hopped into the pool. They swam until the moon peeked over the tops of the trees and then they hopped out and chased lightning bugs and caught them in plastic cups. The adults continued to visit and laugh and share stories. The men shared their tales of stupid customers as they both have many years of retail experience. We petted their cats and made fun of their dog. Brinkley the Wonder Dog was afraid of King Waffle for some strange reason. He kept watching King Waffle out the dining room window and whenever King Waffle would stand up, Brinkley would run away. We managed to get one picture of the two of them together. See?




Later, Brinkley was let out to do his business and had to pass King Waffle to get back to his kennel. He was walking as he approached King Waffle, but decided to hustle past and got all skittish and lost traction as he scrambled past his feet. Everyone got tickled all over again and had another good laugh before we had to say goodbye for the night. We hugged each other goodnight and made plans to meet for breakfast.

This morning, I woke up with a spring in my step, knowing that I’d see my friend again soon.

We met up for breakfast at Village Inn {aka The Village Idiot, as King Waffle calls it}. We giggled and gabbed once again as we ate our French toast. It was relaxing and enjoyable to spend just a few moments more with her and her sweet family.

I gotta say, I’ve always known she was just one of those people who is unique and just genuinely fun to be around. Her personality shines through in her online persona and now that I’ve seen her and hugged her and broken bread with her and her family, I can say that I am blessed to know her. She is one of a kind and my “sister from another mister” as I told her as we giggled last night.

Eriak, I’ll definitely be stopping back by. Thanks for the pizza and beer. Thanks for letting the kids swim. Thanks for opening your home to a bunch of “strangers” from Alabama. But most of all, thank you for being my friend. I hug you nao.

See ya online, RikiChick. ; )