Monday, March 21, 2011

What is Real

I walked into the beautiful lobby of The Montage Hotel (One of my favorite places on earth!) with a feeling of great anticipation.  I could sense that the person who was waiting for me was standing very near.  As I turned my head toward her our eyes linked in instant recognition and our entire bodies lit up in bright smiles.  We headed for one another, arms wide open, and landed in an embrace which felt both entirely comfortable and very familiar.  Nothing unusual about two good friends meeting up for lunch, but this was different.  Kathy and I had never met in the physical before.  Since about 2007, we have been encouraging, supporting and caring deeply about one another over the Internet.  Kathy lives in Chicago and I live in California.  Blogs and emails have been our main lines of communication. In other words, as Kathy so aptly put it a few months ago, we are pen-pals.  Albeit, the modern, electronic version of pen-pals, but pen-pals, nonetheless.  And although this form of communication has gone on for ages (I still remember my pen-pal from Butte, Montana who was given to me as a child by my school), people are always surprised to find out that friendships, real friendships can grow out of meeting someone online.  And yet, why not?  We meet people in all kinds of unusual situations, so why not electronically.  I believe that we are drawn to those we are drawn to for a reason.  I also believe that our souls can recognize those who are meant to be a part of our lives long before we consciously see it with our own eyes.  There is a knowing.  There is a glimmer.  There is the feeling of "Where have you been?"  Trusting in my beliefs, I have developed many online friendships that are no less real than any of my "real life" friendships.  And although I understand and watch for the inherent dangers of making an online connection, I also trust that I will recognize a problem far before the meeting stage.  I have spent enough time lecturing my own daughters about this to know.  I am also cynical and savvy enough to not be fully aware of all of the dangers in the world.  That being said(mostly for my daughters and my fathers sake), I knew that Kathy was someone whom I was meant to meet.  When the opportunity arose, I was very happy.
And so, there we were.  Two women who had never met before, chatting and laughing and being quiet with one another as we asked each other question after question and listened intently to one another's answers.  We did not even look at our menus until about two hours after we sat down knowing that it wasn't about the food, but the friendship.  At one point, I noticed a man who was sitting at another table with a woman who had her head down and dark sunglasses on her face.  He kept looking over at me and  because he looked so familiar, I had to peruse my mental rolodex.  It took a few minutes for me to realize that the couple was one who used to be on The Housewives of Orange County and that the reason the gentleman kept looking over at me was because he wanted to be recognized.  Of course, the irony was a little lost on Kathleen because she doesn't watch any of those shows(good for her!), but being that many of these people are my neighbors, and my kids know their kids, I sometimes do.  And even though my Angel Daughter Number Two worked with this Housewife's daughter for a while, I would not feel at all comfortable walking up to her and introducing myself.  She seems far too removed from reality. I found it interesting how some "characters" who expose their lives on a reality show seem less real to me than someone whom I have, up until that point, only met online.  Life is funny.
Kathy and I talked for hours.  We made a friend.  A seagull kept landing on the roof next to our table and although I know I am "not supposed to", I kept pitching french fries his way.  As someone who has rescued more than one seagull suffering from malnutrition in the winter/spring months, I have no problems sharing my food with them.  Kathy not only put up with my feeding of the seagull but also shared with me some stories about the results of her generosity with little critters.  We laughed, loudly.  The staff kept coming outside to our table to see if we needed anything else.  Kathy asked them if we were being too loud.  They said of course not!  We shared a dessert and chatted some more.  I recognized Kathy's daughter and her sweet friend walking up the path down below us and she came up to say hello.  What a sweetheart!  I adored her right away.  I really enjoyed meeting her!   I asked her if she would take some photos for us and she agreed wholeheartedly.  Unfortunately, the skies were a bit overcast that day but she took some wonderful pictures for us.  It was especially cute when she told us to do some silly poses which made us all laugh.  Suddenly, Kathy and I were acting like two teenage girls who were enjoying the day with each other.
This is actually my favorite picture of us.  When Kathy's beautiful daughter told us to do something silly, we both put our fingers up in the same pose!  Since it was getting late and neither one of us wanted to say good-bye, we decided to check out the little stationary/perfume shop which is outside of the hotel.  It was fun because Kathy had not yet discovered it and so we got to enjoy it together.  We each purchased some wonderful journaling materiel as well as a little book called, This is Water, by David Foster Wallace.  As we said good-bye, we embraced tightly and I knew that we would see each other again in the future.  Who knows, maybe next time in Chicago?

When I got home that evening, Mark smiled as I chattered on about my day and how much I enjoyed spending it with Kathy.  You see, as I have become more and more affected by my chronic illness,  I stay home a lot(out of necessity, but still), friends of many years have slowly dropped away not knowing how to be in a relationship with the new me(who is still me, by the way), and I have not been able to create any new friendships because of my lack of energy and my need to put as much of it as I can into my four daughters and my beloved husband.  But I think that in my renewed enthusiasm, Mark recognized more than a glimmer of "the old me" and it made him very happy to see me so happy.  It made me happy too, to know that she is still in here.  And although I am realistic to know that I cannot go out for days at a time, visiting with friends, chatting for hours, etc., I do know that I still get great enjoyment out of making that kind of a connection.

That night, Kathy texted me to ask if I had read the little book that we both bought.  Her reaction to it was , "Wow".  I told her that I would read it in the morning, but then, I could not resist.  I sat down and read it that night.  It was about living consciously and in the moment.  It was about learning and changing and accepting, even amongst the struggles.  It was about living a compassionate life.  I went to sleep so grateful to Kathy and to my husband and to the angels, God, and a friend who "introduced" us to one another.  And I said a prayer of thanks to whoever invented the Internet(um, Al Gore, of course) because without the Internet, Kathy and I would most likely have never met.  And I would never have met all of the wonderful individuals who so graciously read my words and leave me such beautiful, kind comments which lead me to their wonderful blogs from which I gather so much.  So very much.  Do not ever doubt that we are all friends, real friends.  Our blogs are like the backyard fences of yesterday or the pen-pal notes before the Internet.  They allow us to create amazing connections where there might never have been one possible.  I love that.

Thank you, Kathy, my sweet pen-pal, for our wonderful day.  And I meant it when I said you are beautiful.


Blue said...

reminds me of when we met. happy day! so glad you got to connect IRL, and had enough energy that day! such fun.

chandelier magic said...

...we'll be doin that one day, I hope.

I've been MIA - but I'll be back.
Pumping out lots of Chandeliers for the Rose Bowl - major wedding bills to pay off
Husbands aging parents - what a trip
Taxes - euw
Working on major regrouping of my daily life.

Thanks for your incredible words that I hear as though you were cheering me on.

Not to mention, I can barely stay awake thru DWTS or American Idol.


Tracy said...

Oh Debra,
I cried when I read this and it gave me goosebumps...I too KNOW that God has directed each person into my life from the interent and I love how you said it was like our back yard beautiful!
YES, indeed, we are so very blessed...I am glad you were able to meet Kathy and just glad you had that experience...
Love and hugs~

Renee said...

Oh, how wonderful for you and your friend to connect in person. Isn't it amazing how life brings us together?! I love that....and the photos. Also, the books sounds like one to check out.

miruspeg said...

What an absolutely gorgeous post!
You both look fabulous.
Over the last couple of years I have met, in real life, over a dozen of my blog friends and each meeting is such a blessing.

I feel it in my heart that we too will meet one day Debbie.

Take care sweet friend, big, big hugs and lots of love.
Peggy xxxxx

RottenMom said...

What a beautiful post! The two of you look like you have been friends forever, so comfortable.

Debbie said...

What a lovely post! Friends are such a blessing in life. I'm glad you have a good one:)

LauraX said...

Oh I love this!!!! I'm so glad the two of you had a chance to hang out and connect in person!!! Hoooray for this magical internet bridge of connection and all the sweet friendships it has allowed to unfold:-)

Sharon said...

These are special moments ~ when we meet in person the sweet hearts we have connected with online. Memories are made that carry us until the next visit ~

Angella Lister said...

How wonderful! From the photos, one would never guess you two were just meeting in person. your souls clearly have known one another for aeons.

love to you, dear friend. i love the pen pal analogy! i had many of them, in far-flung countries when I was a child. I have their photographs in my albums, still.

Meili said...

Hi Deb. I just felt like checking in with you. It's been a while since I visited your blog. I hope you are doing well; I can always feel your faith and goodness in your words. Thank you for that. More faith and goodness in the world is always a good thing.

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