Last week, during an outdoor field trip with about a hundred other homeschoolers, I had a surreal kinda moment that made my day.
As Matthew and his buddy were playing on some hay bales near by, I struck up a conversation with one of the (few) dads there. He was watching his son play, too. As we chatted, and shared bits of information about our kids and our lives, I suddenly felt this gnawing sensation at the pit of my stomach...because some of the stuff he was telling me sounded so familiar. The more he talked, the less I was able to shake the feeling that I'd heard this before.
Then it suddenly dawned on me. The poor man must have thought me terribly rude, because I interrupted him mid-sentence in order to ask: "Is your wife Caitlin Wray!!?"
"Yes, she is," was his answer, to my amazement.
"I follow her blog," I answered enthusiastically. "I love her blog. Where is she? Is she here?" I couldn't believe the coincidence of that moment.
He (whose name I immediately forgot!) nodded and pointed a little ways away, where I beheld a lovely woman with a pony tail sticking out of either side of her head, a little bit Anne-of-Green-Gablesish but without the red pigment. I laughed silently at that little observation, thinking that this is just how I would have imagined Caitlin to look. I made a beeline over to her in my eagerness to meet her. When I asked if she was, indeed, Caitlin Wray, and she answered in the affirmative, I introduced myself. Before I could even finish telling her that I read her blog and that I thought she read mine, too, she opened up her arms and we hugged.
I was utterly amazed. We ended up having a great conversation, though it was a bit surreal to know details about each other's lives despite looking into the eyes of a stranger. She was lovely...just as I knew she would be, having read her blog for quite a while now. Check it out yourself - it's a good blog and she's a wonderful writer: Welcome to Normal. Maybe someday you'll be lucky to meet her, too!
This whole online friendship thing really is a little hard to comprehend. My experience with Caitlin has happened before, only in reverse - where others have introduced themselves to me by way of saying that they follow my blog. It's a bit surreal every time, and occasionally disconcerting, when someone asks a question or makes a comment about something I've talked about on my blog! But I love it.
One might be inclined to think that online friendships aren't 'real' friendships. After all, most of the time we haven't even met face-to-face, and we generally aren't involved in the minutia of each other's daily lives. But what I've found time and time again is that the things I know about my online friends, and the things they know about me, are many of the things that really matter. Because that's what we typically write about. And because sometimes it's a bit easier talking to someone about the important stuff when you're not face-to-face. So although we may not have met, although we may have no idea about each other's daily routines, although we may not even know the names of their life partner (!), we can enjoy an intimate and rewarding friendship. Attaching a face to the name is just the icing on the cake, a fitting together of a piece of the puzzle. Certainly, I count amongst my friends some of the lovely people I've met online, and I feel very fortunate that they (you!) are a part of my life.