Funny. When you make a friend over the internet, you have an image in your mind of the way they look. Your image is based on those little hints of their personality that they allow to enter their posts or e-mails. Are they perky? Are they cranky? Do they snap or crackle or pop with impatience? Are they so vague you want to scream in frustration?
And then you meet them. It's amazing how quickly you assimilate their true image and meld the two together. Suddenly there is a complete person there when you read their posts and e-mails. That vague impression is swept away forever and the real person is set in it's place.
In the past week I've met many of my internet friends. There was a whirling rush of impressions--laughter, annoyance, anger, excitement, hope, worry--all swirling around in dizzying speed. There are snapshots in my mind that are more vivid than the sharpest photograph. Cindy in her dragon's wings. Bronwyn in her beautiful gown for the vampire ball. Brynn walking across the stage on the arm of a hunk. Judith glowing with accomplishment after her interview with K. Duffy.
A little over a year ago we were all strangers, slowly revealing ourselves as we grew more comfortable with each other, hesitantly sharing secrets as we built shaky bridges of trust. It has been a process of two steps forward and one step back. There are uncomfortable moments when we step off the path of good taste or too much information because without facial cues, it's sometimes difficult to know where the boundaries are.
Yet I smile when I remember each of them. Funnily enough, our meeting was one of the first times in my life when I had no responsibility for any individual's behavior except my own. It was a liberating experience to be in a large group of friends without any old memories dragging me down. I was free to form impressions and just enjoy.
There is the tendency in such a group for everyone to feel responsible for everyone else. Are they lonely? Do they need company? Should we ask them to sit at our table? But this was a group of mature adults, each of them capable of taking care of themselves. And so any togetherness was simply for the joy of being together.
Too soon Saturday arrived and the goodbyes began. Too soon. Suddenly, there seems to be so much that we didn't say. So many things we wanted to share. Where did the time go?
Perhaps what we forgot was that the internet with e-mail and posts is still available. Only now we will be comfortable with those messages, tapped out quickly between a mug of coffee and the morning paper. Why? Because now we can see the face of a friend.
Seems so difficult to get back into the groove, doesn't it? Don't forget to drop by Kelly's Blog and Amarinda's Place... and of course the OhGetAGrip blog where we're still catching up. Blessings on your day.