For the last issue of New Attitude Magazine, I convinced my parents to let me put my name in the pen pal ads. I wanted some “real” pen pals—”real” as in girls I’d never met before.
It was such a thrill getting those first letters in the mail box. Reading the hearts of those dear girls spilled out onto notebook paper and floral stationery.
Those girls connected me to other magazines and other girls who connected me to online community. My “real” pen pals became “virtual” pen pals.
It was suddenly a little harder to explain to people where exactly I met some of my girl friends. Or rather, the little detail that we hadn’t actually met before—even though we considered each other the closest of friends.
My family listened to the bits and pieces of my friends’ lives and stories I shared with them. But it never seemed quite as “real” as letters actually showing up in the mail box.
Until those virtual friends flew cross country for visits and weddings and surprise 16th birthday parties. Their brothers became friends with my brothers. They wrote for my magazine. And even though I still hadn’t gotten to hug some of them, they were friends, for real and for certain.
My husband met some of them at my wedding, but it was a little hard for him to remember meeting anyone that day. They were my online friends. Until they poured out love and support after his accident. Until their families came to our farm to visit. Until we sat down across the table at an Italian restaurant and talked about antiques and churches. Until we went out for a double coffee date to meet her boyfriend.
Now, my virtual and real worlds are so meshed and interwoven I can hardly tell the difference. Local mommy friends read YLCF years before I lived here. My pastor’s wife and my grandma are on Facebook. My aunt and my mom are on Twitter. I never know which friend of my mom’s is going to comment on my blog next.
I’m friends with those local mommies on Facebook—and sometimes we’re not sure if we have more chance to chat at the park or online while the kids are napping. Status updates become avenues for sharing prayer requests and keeping in closer touch with the people I see each Sunday at church, each winter back where I grew up.
This week’s Five-Minute Friday prompt of “in real life” (which took way more than five minutes—how can you talk about a community of friends in just five minutes?!) is inspired by an exciting announcement from (in)courage: “in real life” meetups coming next April, all around the globe. “Connecting women beyond the blog post.” I’m excited to hopefully connect with more local moms (and who knows—maybe we’ve been reading the same blogs for years!). Are you signed up yet? I can’t wait!