There are a lot of things I look forward to in 2011, but nothing more than my meetup with my two closest friends I’ve never seen (in person).
I know for many, if not most, people, it’s unusual to say that someone’s among your “closest friends” if you’ve never met in person, but this is actually pretty standard for me. I am an internet/social networking geek going way back. In the late-80s/early-90s, I had a little system called a “U.S. Videotel.” It only existed in Houston and Dallas, but was basically one of the earliest chatroom systems around. Anyone who had a U.S. Videotel terminal (and in later years, a computer disk) could connect. There was an early form of e-mail, chatrooms, graffiti boards, you name it. Heck, I even won front row NKOTB tickets once for chatting online. Back in the day before anyone had even heard of internet dating and chatrooms, I fixed up my mom – who was afraid of meeting people online – with a NASA engineer with a “Who wants to date my cute mom?” graffiti post. The relationship didn’t last, but because of their one date, my mom and I were among the first non-NASA employees to try Virtual Reality. In high school, I had a group of friends I’d met in the Yak chatrooms on Videotel. Some of my friends were in Dallas, some were in Houston. After months of hanging out online, we did a meetup at the Galleria mall. That meetup became an every-other-week thing. I still have a picture of Jessica, Kevin, Rachel and I hanging out in front of the ice skating rink. Good times. And my first friends met online.
I also did online dating before there was an internet. In fact, later in life, I even dated a guy who was one of the pioneers of internet dating – a friend of mine for over a decade who revolutionized the BBS dating system only to be part of the group to first launch their site on the WWW. That same dating site was really my first social network. Instead of just meeting people to date, I made friends – lots of friends. There was a large group of us that went out nearly every week when I was in college. In fact, one of those friends recently posted on Facebook a picture of me at a New Years Eve party 15 years ago – pictures of our whole Matchmaker crew, in fact. All of this happened back in the days of dial-up. Yes, the internet and I go way back, and I can thank her for me meeting Pop Culture Dad [thanks, Match.com!].
Given my long history of online relationships, it is not unusual that at the beginning of my pregnancy, I found myself in pregnancy forums. At the suggestion of a friend, I tried iVillage briefly. It didn’t really work out for me. Soon, however, I found my home on What to Expect.com. And it was there that I met Kat and Brittney – my two closest friends I’ve never met. Heck, two of my closest friends, period.
We were all due at various times in December 2008 [even though two of us ended up giving birth in November]. We all started off active on the forums, and then Brittney sort of disappeared from them. Kat and I remained active on the boards (according to our husbands, maybe too active at times), and forged a friendship. She eventually became the Den Mother of our expecting board and a featured blogger, and somehow talked me into doing both too. It was through the featured blogger program that we reconnected with Brittney. Even though there was no “office,” Kat and Brittney were my coworkers. Most importantly, though, they were my friends. Kat and I were already frequent e-mail chatters, and eventually we roped Brittney in too. Our friendship consists at times of more than 100 e-mails a day – and it’s at the point where we apologize for having real lives and not getting to e-mails sooner.
We have “celebrated” kids’ births and birthdays together, as well as our own birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. We have helped each other through trying times and cheered each other on during triumphs. We have watched our bellies grow together and watched our children grow from itty bitty babies to sassy toddlers. We have shared every major and minor event in our lives (past, present, and plans for the future) together. We have talked politics, religion, music, television, movies – you name it. And sometimes we’re stupid and silly just for the sake of it all. We may have never met in person, but we are a strong set of gal pals.
Really, it’s geography’s fault that we’ve never met. Navigating between Massachusetts, Texas and Arizona isn’t exactly easy – particularly with six adults and five children among us. Last year on New Years Day, my one and only one resolution was that I would finally meet Kat and Brittney in person. They each made reciprocal resolutions. It’s been a really busy year for all of us (particularly with Brittany being pregnant and giving birth to the gorgeous Isla in July), so the meetup never materialized. However, in September, we decided that if we couldn’t complete the meetup by year-end, we would at least book it… And we have!
In four months, I will “meet” my good friends, their hubbies, and their children. Considering our husbands and kids already know more about each other than people we see fairly often, I imagine the meetup will feel more like a family reunion. My daughter already refers to them as aunts and their children as cousins, so I really do feel like I will be seeing family.
Brittney once said she imagines our meetup will look like this:
I imagine, given our personalities, it will look more like this:
Either way, I’m sure we’ll blog about it.