The first person I ever knew who met someone on the internet was my sister. It was the early 90’s, back when the internet was all new and scary, and actually meeting someone from the internet was akin to making yourself a date with an ax murderer, or at the very least, a weirdo.
So my sister was living with us at the time, and she was out super late one night. By the time we’d started to get worried, she was home, telling us about the coolest guy she’d ever met. They’d first started talking in an AOL chat room, and decided that they needed to meet in person. She hadn’t told us where she was going because she didn’t want us to 1) talk her out of it, or 2) warn her that he’d probably be, well, an ax murderer or a weirdo.
It could have ended badly. But, thankfully, he was not an ax murderer. Or a weirdo (although he did eventually become my brother-in-law, which is almost the same thing.)
Of course, since then I’ve known of countless people who’ve met their spouses, significant others, friends, even birth parents on the internet. These days, it’s downright commonplace. But back then? Back when my love affair with the internet first began? The idea that the internet, this veritable pool of knowledge and resources and information, could also be such a source of connection = Mind. Blown.
And it would turn out, especially as I was drawn to unschooling and gentle parenting and eventually to a whole variety of “hippie” ways, that the internet would be not just useful for making connections with other like-minded moms, but invaluable. It made me realize I wasn’t alone. For the first time, I would find people who truly got it. People who understood. People who didn’t like me despite my “weirdness” but because of it. Yes, some of the best friends that I’ve ever made have matriculated from this same online tribe.
Last week, I got to spend five days with one such friend, when Jess visited from Michigan. In many ways, we didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary. We never made it to Sedona. We didn’t step foot in the desert. The only mountains I showed her were those we passed on the highway (and considering we drove around the entire east valley, we were on the highway a LOT)
But we also laughed a lot.
We chatted a lot.
We ate good food, and drank good drinks, and went to Jamba Juice at least 3 times.
And there’s just something… comforting… about being with a person who GETS YOU.
Someone who doesn’t think your dreadlocks are weird because she got hers six months before you did.
Someone who doesn’t question why you’d want a fourth tattoo, because she’s right beside you getting her second, and faithfully handing you lollipops for the entire grueling 3 hours.
Someone who doesn’t think it’s at all unusual that you love God, but that you haven’t been to church regularly in more years than you can count.
Someone who you can be completely honest with, not just with certain parts of yourself, but with all the parts.
Someone who treats your non-stop, energetic, firecracker of a daughter (and all of your boys) as well as she treats her own kids.
Something special indeed.
So while I have moments (and days and months) of pretty much loathing all things internet and social media – or at the very least, some of the people who know how to use them – as long as they keep bringing these people into my life, I will forever be indebted.