Blogging has taught me many things, chief among them how nice people are. I’m pretty sure that people who don’t blog/read blogs don’t quite get it – they tend to get stuck on the “and you’ve never even met this person, but s/he’s your friend??” thing. Come to think of it, that’s the reaction I’ve received whenever I’ve spoken of internet friends – I started on the net in the early 1990’s and was thought extremely strange (if not outright pathetic) by most people. These days, that boggling of minds seems to have abated a smidge as more and more join the bandwagon, but still… friends? That you’ve never met? How odd.
From my end, not so odd. When the technicalities of going out involves advanced planning in terms of transportation, attendant schedules, etc., friendship easily evolves into something non-geographic, something not necessarily requiring face-to-face time. Very few of my friends originated in ‘real life”, many of them still exist purely in the ether of internet or telephone. Sometimes I wonder whether the hours spent on the phone or in email deepens relationships so much faster. Whether non-face time opens you up sooner and perhaps at times more authentically. Whether consistently not being in the same room brings you soul-to-soul in a way that takes years the “other way”. Which is not to say that the more traditional way of making friends isn’t wonderful, as well, but it’s a very different way of doing the friendship dance.
What has brought me to this state of pondering is gifts I've received recently from new and old friends and today’s all about public expression of gratitude. At Christmas, Ken - who I met online 12? 14? years ago and who has since become part of my chosen family - gave me this: an alpaca shawl (modeled by someone who prefers to remain anonymous). Although I'm stretching the concept of 'recently' (hey, it's only been 6 months!), it is so beautiful that I had to show it. I don't know which pattern this is, but Ken might provide that in the comments.
More recently, I got a package from AlisonH - who I met in blog land just this year. The most beautiful pink shawl that will look perfect with a white T-shirt. And no, I don't know the specifics about the yarn and pattern on this one, either, but I'm sure if you check the comments, Alison might give you more details.
Another present from a blog friend arrived not too long ago. Michelle told me that some of my words had brought an image to her mind and I should have it. She is a great artist and I have the exact perfect spot for it.
I first met John, my brother-in-law, 10 years ago online (holy crap, John, it's been a decade already!) and we were friends for two years before he moved to southern Ontario and swept my sister off her feet. John’s contribution to the pile (I’m overwhelmed) was his post on Friday, June 16 - my father's birthday. Far has been gone five years now and I still miss him terribly. John's beautiful words helped me shed long-stored tears and once my grief was released, it took with it tears for other losses and I feel lighter for it. (somehow, I can’t do a post-specific link to John’s blog, but scroll down. After you’ve read his Father’s Day post, which is equally lovely).
Michele - another Michele, only one 'l' - and I met each other in the more traditional way, at university in October 1982 (holy crap, Michele, we’ll have our silver anniversary next year!). We’ve been through everything that life could throw at us together and still somehow like each other more now than we did decades ago. This weekend, Michele helped me clean out my storage room. Mere words do not convey the magnitude of the task - I am by nature a 'collector' (some people might uncharitably use the term 'packrat') and in the 10 years I’ve lived in my apartment, the room has not been cleaned out. It is so beautiful now that I am tempted to bronze it. Or go get my neighbours so I can show it to them.
I’m a lucky woman.