Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Some of my best friends are...

People I met on the internet.

I started to tell you about some of my best friends in a recent “Fun Monday” post, and promised to introduce you to all of the misfits in my life as time allowed. Here then, is a little bit about my most “unique” group of friends.

As you know, this past weekend I attended a wedding in New York City (okay, technically it was in Queens, but whatever). And as promised, there will be details on the wedding, Grease, and LawBoy later in the week. But first, the full story of how I met Ms. B., the bride. A little background before I delve into my tales of the city.

Thanksgiving of this year will mark seven years since I started a little group on Yahoo Groups (back then it was Yahoo Clubs) which would forever change my life. It was the year my grandmother had passed away and therefore the first year that Thanksgiving would not take place at her home. A smaller version of the family headed to my mother’s house for dinner that year, and with low spirits, and not feeling as festive as in recent years, the party wound down much earlier than was customary. Once the relatives had left, I was depressed, and bored, and needed a distraction from the lack of celebration this particular Thanksgiving had brought. It was a time before MySpace and certainly before the explosion in the “blog-osphere”, and everyone was using means such as Yahoo “clubs” to communicate with complete strangers online. But I couldn’t find a “club” that fit me. I wasn’t looking for a dating group, I wasn’t looking to discuss my babies or my cats, or my hobbies…none of the “clubs” I found were appealing to me. So I decided to create my own. I started a group for women only…single women in their 20s just looking to talk about life without being hounded for their phone numbers by creepy guys.

So I started this group, and over the next few weeks and months a variety of women would join. Some jumped right in, others lurked for a bit, some stayed, others left. Within a few months though, there was a core of seven of us that were obviously what the group had been created for. As we got to know each other better, and began sharing more of our lives with one another, we decided it would be wise to close off the group to the public. It became more of a “meeting place” then an internet “chat room”. Over the next seven years we would have weddings, break-ups, home purchases, cross-country moves, a national terrorist attack, family deaths and births, dating misadventures, health scares, and other enumerable events that shape life in your 20’s and early 30’s. And we would share them ALL with one another.

It would be about a year before any of us would meet in person. Ms. B. was the first of the seven that I met. With her living right outside NYC and me right outside of Boston, it only made sense that we would arrange to meet. We hit it off instantly, as we already knew we would, and over the years we’ve spent many weekends at each other’s homes, as well as traveled together. A few of us planned a trip to Atlantic City one year, so that we could meet in person, and were thoroughly looking forward to the experience, but our trip was planned for the weekend after the world changed. Many frantic e-mails and phone calls later, after assurances that we were all okay, the trip was cancelled. Nobody in this country would be flying anywhere that week. But that dreadful day didn’t quell the love of travel in most of us. It was that love of travel that introduced both Ms. B. and I to the second of the seven. We met Texas when she invited us to join her on a cruise she had booked prior to the attacks. Without ever meeting her in person, we agreed. The look on people’s faces on that cruise when they would ask how we had met, and we would tell them “On the internet”, was priceless. We had a fantastic week on that cruise, and I only wish we could do it again. And then life got in the way, and money got tight for everyone, and plans to re-plan our Atlantic City weekend were never ironed out. A few of the other girls have arranged meetings along the way, and just last year I was able to reconnect with Texas for a quick dinner one night while she was in the area for a wedding. Ms. B. and I have continued our visits and weekend trips. But, with the exception of a recent attempt at meeting one other member, which unfortunately didn’t pan out due to a missed flight, it was not until this weekend that I was able to meet any of the other members of our group of seven.

As I mentioned in my Thursday Thirteen before I left, I was to be meeting Foxy and Bubbly this weekend, and I couldn’t have been more excited. After nearly 7 years of almost daily correspondence, we would finally have a face to face conversation.

Foxy and I arrived at the hotel at the same time on Friday, and after checking into our room (yes, we were sharing a room, and no, there was no anxiety about this), we proceeded to gab non-stop for the next two hours. The best way to describe our instant connection is to tell you that it was just as if we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in years. I wasn’t “meeting” her; I was just in the same room as her for the first time. We met seven years ago. Later that evening we visited Ms. B. in her hotel room, so that she could meet Foxy as well, and again, the connection was instant.

Bubbly arrived the next day, while Foxy and I were eating lunch. She joined us at the lunch table, and again, there were no introductions, it was just a seamless entry into a comfortable conversation. Later that day, at the wedding, Bubbly and Ms. B. met for the first time as well. Strange that Ms. B. would invite girls she’d never met to her wedding? Not really, these are our greatest friends, separated only by the inconvenience of distance.

I’m happy to report that I had one of the most fantastic times ever this weekend. More on that later, but the bond with these girls is as real as any group of friends can have. Our uniqueness in the way we met only makes our friendship that much more special. It also made us the group to meet at the party. Everyone wanted to meet Ms. B’s internet friends; they were all fascinated by our story. They were also probably slightly shocked by the fact that we all knew more about them than they probably wanted us to know. We share EVERYTHING in our group posts.

I only hope we can meet up again sooner than another seven years. There are still two of the seven that I have yet to meet face to face. This does not make them any less special in my group of friends. I still value them as highly as any of my “real life” friends. Some of these girls know me better than any of my “day to day” friends. Some people have a group of friends from college…I have my internet friends.


Literary Feline said...

What a lovely story, Karina! You are so lucky to have found such a great group of people--and they are even luckier to have found you. :-)

Anonymous said...

Aww that is so sweet! So nice to read how you met. It sure is possible to find great friends over the internet.

MommaBoo said...

Good friends are a joy FOREVER!

Stay close with these folks.

"Friends are the family we choose."

Anonymous said...

Awesome story!

I was part of an egroup for several years. Some of us met up with each other a few times and it was, as you describe, like we'd always known each other. Unfortuately our group was much larger...around 25...and something nasty broke it up. You were wise to keep it small.

Continue to treasure them.

Rebecca said...

Ya, I think now that the internet's been around for a while the whole "meeting some from the internet" stigma is getting washed away. They sound like a great group of girls! :-)