Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I remember in Italy, when we mentioned we were renting a car and driving from Florence to Rome (cue hysterical laughter) in order to make some day trips along the way, an Italian told us, "Don't follow the lanes. Don't expect to. Just move with the flow."

Best advice we could've ever received.

Imagine my surprise though, when I went out on my usual run of denial normalcy last Saturday at the beach and found that on the boardwalk was a demarcated lane just for me. Despite the fact that it was a cool, crisp morning and everything was eerily shut down for the season and the boardwalk was close to deserted, I got in my lane and stayed there all the way down and back. Sometimes it's nice to know you fit in somewhere.


Two weeks ago I got a message from Ms. Prufrock at Barren Albion wondering if I lived anywhere in the proximity of [place to remain unnamed, story belongs on her blog] and I believe my reaction was "HOLY SHIT, that's 10 minutes away."

And last Thursday night, I let Ms. Prufrock in my front door and despite popular internet legend, she was not an attention-starved 14-year old boy or a 56 year-old male axe-murderer. She was beautiful and sweet and had this lovely little British lilt despite her Pennsylvania roots, and we sat and drank tea in my kitchen and chatted and it was . . . . awesome. It's really quite strange to sit with someone you've never met, and yet you know their whole backstory. It's like you don't know them at all, and know them more than most.


Less than 24 hours after my tea time (Ms. Prufrock promised not to make fun of my gauche American tea-making skillz, which consist of putting a bag in a mug of water and putting it all in the microwave if I promised not to mention that she sat at my kitchen counter and tried to get her no-plan mobile phone to work and . . . did I just say all that out loud?), I loaded my car with goodies and set off for the shore to meet . . . . total strangers. Psychopaths. Internet hoodlums. Well, ok, not entirely true -- I had met Angie and Sarah before, so I knew it would be at least three against seven (if they were still alive), and I more or less trusted Niobe and Julia since I had communicated with them a bit and knew a bit of non-internet information . . . . but you never know. I mean, even if everyone else there -- M., TracyOC, Lani, Molly, Laura -- was legit, what if (gulp) we all just didn't click? And then I saw people unloading Dogfish Head and Victory beer from their coolers and knew, knew right then and there, that we were all going to get along just fine.

And we did.

There was chatter, and eating, and eating yet again, and laughter, and crying, and even crying because you were laughing so hard. (Ok, that was me.) And everyone just fell into their places at the couch or the table or walking down the boardwalk, and conversation was usually chippy and up but occasionally the elephant entered the room, and how nice to know we were at the convention of florescent pink elephants and no one skipped a beat.

It was so nice to finally fit in.

I think what I really liked was the normalcy -- the knitting (though I don't), the photo taking, the game playing. I didn't know what to expect, and while I didn't think there would be seances and chest beating and shrine design sessions, I was pleasantly surprised at how beachy and weekend-y it all turned out.

I know what you're all thinking, I can sense it through the interwebs, and the answer is . . . YES. Yes computer friends, I DID get a picture of Niobe. Right before she threatened to grab my camera and smash it to bits.

Niobe Playing Jacks

I jest. I would never attempt to photograph such a spirit.


Julia said...

Ahhhh... My pictures are not up yet. You know why? Because they have to come with the story, yes? And in composing that in my head, I couldn't find a graceful way to explain why it was so fucking nice this weekend. And this wasn't even my first blogger meetup, though it was the first in neutral waters, so to speak. So here come you, with the elephants and ahhh... yes. That's how it was. Thanks for the words. My pictures thank you for their freedom. Or they will, once I clean them up a bit and post them.

A lovely story, this. Made me smile.

debbie said...

Sounds like so much fun! I wish I could hang with friends from inside the computer too! I've often wondered what it would be like to spend time with people I simultaneously know so much and absolutely nothing about. Regardless of that strange fact, I think it would be awesome.
Glad you had a great time!

angie said...

Awesome description of the weekend, I was having trouble describing why it was so great, and I think it was simply that sort of normalcy. You aren't really supposed to feel that way with strangers, and yet, we aren't quite strangers...anyway, I love the jacks picture. I hoped someone took a picture of jacks being played. And Julia, can't wait to see your pictures. Last night I started laughing thinking of your boardwalk pictures, "Ah, there's Gabby and Lani, walking with a pregnant boy."

Life in Eden said...

I am envious. I've met one or two in person, but I miss Philly and the NJ shore and to meet such wonderful ladies ... lucky you! I can just imagine. The women I've met in this online community are such that I can just imagine what it would be like. *sigh*

CLC said...

I am bummed I missed it. Maybe one of these days we will stop talking about meeting up and finally actually do it!

loribeth said...

I. Am. Jealous!!! ; )

Astrid said...

What a wonderful story, so glad you enjoyed it. Funny about the 'runners' lane! I wonder if anyone follows it during heavy foot traffic...

erica said...

So glad the weekend was a good one. I'm still taken aback some days by the fact that I feel close to people I've never actually met.

Lani said...

so beautifully written! i too have the story in my head, and due to many unforeseen circumstances this week, have yet to post it up. maybe i'll do that now.

so awesome to meet you and the rest of the crew. was a wonderful and healing weekend and i'm already excited for the next one!

ezra'smommy said...

Such a perfect rendering of the weekend we had...a pink elephant convention indeed. So wonderful to spend the weekend with you.

TracyOC said...

Well said. I'd forgotten how satisfying normal can be.

I have to warn you that the order on the boardwalk breaks down in the summer. If you go back for a jog in July or August you may suffer the indignity of being run over by a surrey (with fringe on top).

Michele said...

It is amazing how much love you can hold for people you "met" via the Internet, how those people can understand you better than people you've known for years.

Magpie said...

The interwebs are an amazing thing.