friends, virtual and tangible

I’ve met not one, but two blogging friends in person in the past week.

When I tell this to my other, non-blogging friends, they nod their heads politely but with a definite air of disbelief. Meeting people I’ve encountered on the internet? How desperate can I be?

But meeting like-minded folks in person isn’t always easy. If you go into any given crowd and do like Anne of Green Gables, searching for a kindred spirit, it’s a crapshoot. Will there be someone kindred in that particular crowd? And if there is, will you recognize him or her, and will you start up just the right conversation that will make you know you were right? Maybe.

But with blogs your crowd is as big as the world. And you can lurk around in that crowd, eavesdropping on people and getting to know them slowly. If a blogger turns out to be not quite your type, you just quietly quit showing up. On the other hand, it’s easy to find people who share your interests. First I might lurk around on homeschooling blogs, and those lead me to homeschoolers who like to knit, and those lead me to homeschoolers who like to knit and also like to take photos, and those lead me to homeschoolers who like to knit and take photos and plant kitchen gardens…

Kindred spirits!

So last week Tara of tara.mama.wendy and I finally met up with our boys at Adventure Playground in Berkeley.

adventure playground

Magical place, magical afternoon. We had so much fun talking that I sat in the sun without sunscreen, and that’s saying something. We talked about homeschooling and about photography and about little boys who like to play with guns. Tara was as sunny as her Flickr photos and I felt like I’d known her for years.

This weekend I headed over to the HSC homeschool conference. I’ve gone to this conference for years, but this was the first time in a long time that most of my homeschooling buddies weren’t there. Their kids are graduating from homeschooling; they’re moving on. My own H wasn’t there–he’s not a homeschooler any more. There was just a tiny handful of us from our support group and on Friday night I was sad. But Saturday morning there was an email from Molly of A Foothill Home Companion. She was coming down for the day. Could we meet up?

Why, yes we could! We could even share a pizza and a couple of beers as the sun went down. I felt pretty lucky to be able to chat with Molly. Anyone who reads her blog knows how vibrant and creative and generous she is. In person, even more so–plus, I got to hear her laugh. It completely turned around the conference for me, made it something new.

Wish I’d taken a picture.

As we talked, Lulu came off and on, and sat by my side. After we saw Molly off, Lulu walked with me back to our hotel room. “She seems like someone you’d like,” she said.

Smart girl.

15 comments… add one
  • molly Aug 11, 2009 @ 17:07

    you described the process and phenomenon of making real friends from virtual contacts so perfectly! blog surfing is certainly like eavesdropping. so cute what lulu said. yes, smart girl. must be the homeschooling.

    aidan found a cute little stuffed frog at the thrift store today that turns inside out to be a tadpole. on the way home he said, “the person who made this is smart. you would probably like them. if you met them, you would probably want to be their friend.” yes, probably.

    and i just have to say, i love how you cover your mouth when you laugh!

    • patricia Aug 11, 2009 @ 23:09

      Aw, Aidan. Our kids know us well, don’t they?

      Hope you had some good thrift store therapy!

      And do I really cover my mouth when I laugh? I had no idea! Maybe I was just afraid of having pizza in my teeth.

      And oh my goodness, lady, I knew your blog was wildly popular, but you have no idea how many folks are stopping by here, sent along by you. I had 375 views today! I *never* have 375 views. (But will they come back after I start prattling on about E.B. White?)

  • stefaneener Aug 11, 2009 @ 22:02

    Well, it’s like having a theme dorm and meeting people from there. It’s wonderful when you make friends from the people around you — there is real grace and balance in taking the good, meeting where you can, and moving along. But meeting a very like minded person is a sweet difference. No one is perfect; even the like minded are going to have bumps in their friendships, but it is lovely when it happens, isn’t it?

    I wonder if you and I would have been friends if we had only read blogs first?

    • patricia Aug 11, 2009 @ 23:18

      Now this is a good question: I wonder if you and I would have been friends if we had only read blogs first?

      Two of the things I like best about you are your humor and snark. The humor comes across on your blog, but you wisely refrain from snarking publicly. Would I have been drawn to an unsnarky Stefani?

      It’s just too hard to imagine.

      • patricia Aug 12, 2009 @ 11:11

        Just to clarify–it’s not that I wouldn’t have been drawn to you if you weren’t snarky; I just can’t imagine you not being snarky.

        Of course, it takes a snarky person to know a snarky person. And to bring out the best in their snarkiness.

  • Tara Reese Aug 11, 2009 @ 22:24

    you bringing up anne shirley (after laura ingalls, my other childhood obsession) just seals the deal on our kindredness, tricia!
    i definitely shared your experience explaining an internet friend to non-bloggers. but it’s okay with me. i’m sold. and thankful.

    • patricia Aug 11, 2009 @ 23:22

      Next time we get together, we’ll have to drink raspberry cordial!

  • Sarah Aug 12, 2009 @ 7:47

    Yes, you do describe blogging and the whole process of it well. Very well.

    • patricia Aug 12, 2009 @ 11:16

      It’s just how it goes, isn’t it? I was drawn to the bees in the name of your blog, but it’s especially been the photos that keep me coming back. And your positive take on things. 🙂

  • Kristin Aug 13, 2009 @ 8:45

    Hi Tricia,

    –So glad that your connection with a fellow blogger at the conference changed your outlook about it. You’ve been a devoted attendee for, what is it, 11 years?

    In that time things have changed. We have both finished homeschooling our eldest child; they seemed to be the primary focus when we first met (in terms of facilitating learning).

    Now our middle children are taking center stage with all of their activities and interests. Our youngest are now slightly older than our oldest were, when we first met. I’m glad they are good buddies too.

    Our children have been growing up together for years. In that time, the allure of the internet has certainly changed. When I first started homeschooling, I had a hard time finding information about it and had to make connections with people doing it by phone.

    So what I’m getting at is that there’s no replacement for real people. Our on-line personas introduce us to many, but until we meet our virtual friends, and spend time with them, we won’t know for sure whether or not there is a real connection because things aren’t always what they seem to be on the internet.

    You are fortunate to have met two fellow bloggers and found that you do in fact connect with them. It is such a rare occurrence to totally jive with someone else.

    • patricia Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:05

      I’ve been going to the conference for 13 years!

      I completely agree with you that there’s no replacement for real people. Without a doubt! My homeschooling friendships that have developed through our support group over the years are so deep and complex. We’ve been through so much together over the years, and newer relationships just can’t compare in that way. Our support group has come to be like family.

      But I’ve found something through blogging that I hadn’t anticipated. I’ve always felt a desire to talk learning styles and methodology and resources as I’ve explored homeschooling. But in real life I haven’t found many homeschoolers that seem to share those interests–or at least want to talk about them at length. (Although you’re an exception to that, Kristin. We’ve had many, many inspiring conversations!) But through blogging I’ve found people who seem to enjoy such discussions. And many of them have continued outside the comments, via email. Those relationships have been very satisfying to me. They’ve filled a void.

      These days I’m enjoying both types of friendships. And getting to meet blogging friends in person really makes it all come together.

  • susan Aug 13, 2009 @ 15:00

    I have never gone to the HSC conference, but you make me think I should. I met you first in person but I know your e-self better than your brick and mortar self. It is kind of strange seeing someone often who you have only occasionally conversed with but whose thoughts you are not only acquainted with but look forward to reading regularly. I heard someone on Slate’s podcast saying, “I don’t know Andrew Sullivan, I mean, my blog persona and his blog persona know each other really well, but we don’t even nod when we pass each other in the hall.” Wouldn’t that be strange? I’m glad that your meetings with blog friends were so rewarding. It’s really nice getting to know you in both spheres.

    • patricia Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:15

      I love this, Susan: “I met you first in person but I know your e-self better than your brick and mortar self.”

      Yes, getting to know you has been especially interesting; I feel like I’ve gotten to know you fairly well, but not very often in person! When I see you in person, it’s like we’ve had all sorts of other conversations in between–but they’ve been via computer. It’s strange and fun.

      Although I could never imagine not even nodding to you in the hall! It was a real treat to get to spend so much time with you on Monday–usually we just find a few minutes, it seems. Here’s to more conversations between our brick-and-mortar selves!

  • wanderingsue Jan 26, 2013 @ 5:56

    I’ve met 3 of my favourite bloggers, and every time, (but to reducing degrees, so perhaps there’s hope,) turned into a block of wood. Dreadful. The worst of shy teenager awkwardness, complete with sweaty hands and calling myself a moron inside my head.

    • patricia Jan 29, 2013 @ 22:22

      I guess I was lucky, Sue, that the people I met were just the sort of people who can put someone at ease. Meeting new people is always a little awkward, isn’t it? Especially if you want to impress them. I hope that you get to meet other favorite bloggers–and that you stop calling yourself a moron inside your head! 😉

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