This one isn't writing itself.
The words just aren't coming. The emotions are all there, still bubbling under the surface, but the words, well, they are gone. So forgive me as I stumbled through the next few paragraphs.
This past weekend I bundled the family up and took them off to the Boston area for our second-ever real-life meeting of some of my "imaginary friends."
Internet folks. Bulletin board brethren. People I only know in prose.
I've written about life online before (here and here): The strange phenomenon of not knowing the neighbors but making what feels like deep philosophical connections with strangers clear across the country and around the world.
People who you know would be wonderful friends if they just lived next door.
We meet in virtual playgrounds, typing away when time permits, usually the middle of the night.
Midnight is California time; a time when my perfect playgroup would be meeting if the kids didn't need their beauty sleep. You know, after the work day is done, the kids have been bathed and bedded down and everyday chores are complete. I imagine my California contingent have befriended many in Europe for that same reason, not to mention some of us Night-owl, Insomniac East Coasters.
Occasionally you luck into a group in your own time zone and the possibility of a real-life meet-up is not only possible, it becomes inevitable. Please Send Vodka is that group for me.
PSV is a bulletin-board-type forum in which moms post messages in threads and others respond. Back in July a thread got started for folks who'd be interested in participating in a fall meet-up and dozens signed on. A site was set that would be central for the majority of Boston-area members, and people generously volunteered their houses for parties and places of respite in between events. The group has made such an impression that even some of the more far-flung members were inticed to buy plane tickets or buckle the kids up for an hours-long drive to the Bay State.
As fate would have it, the first stop on the weekender was in Concord, Mass., where we could stay with family and the little miss could have a little mini-reunion with the great grandparents, too. How could I not sign myself up and volunteer to bring juice boxes? I couldn't.
But I don't think I can go on without saying what wonderful and diverse people this meet-up allowed me to introduce to my family. They are teachers and lawyers and designers and nurses and mothers and others. They are are as different as they are alike. Every one struggling with some hardship that will make them that much stronger one day, I am sure. Each one is generous and loving and caring, even if they don't give themselves the credit they deserve. They are also witty, irreverent and urbane, traits thinking women just can't resist.
During the weekend, each one of us crawled around the pumpkin patch with our kids, took oodles of pictures and gabbed until we were horse. We marveled at renovation projects and drooled over pot-luck delicacies. We got to play with the real-life kids some of us had only seen in pictures. We ran road races and jumped in leaves. We hiked around the area Henry David Thoreau made famous.
And some of us even took off our shoes and socks and waded in the waters of Walden Pond.
"That tells me you aren't right in the head," one of my new friends said, and I just laughed.
"You have no idea."