…and blog buddies. And Twitterquaintances. All those people who some would say aren’t real friends at all, because how can you claim you’re friends with someone you’ve never met?
Maybe you can’t, hypothetical scoffer. But here’s the thing: I haven’t met most of my friends.
I’m not so good at making friends in real life. Things get awkward when I try to talk to people. I don’t share a lot of interests or common experiences with people in my town. Even if I did, some people don’t want to be friends when they know you’ll be moving away in a few years. Mostly, though, it’s my fault. I’m shy. I’m also introverted, which is by no means the same thing. This means that not only am I afraid of talking to people, I also don’t usually feel lonely when I don’t have anyone around to invite over for tea. People exhaust me, and I’m happy being alone.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have friends.
I’m much less shy about chatting with people online, and conversation is much easier for me when I can proof-read (I tend to muddle my thoughts when I speak out loud). I have friends who live in my computer– at least, that’s my understanding. We have common interests, like vintage toys and customizing My Little Ponies, or writing. The friendships start with that, but often they grow deeper. I have one friend I talk to almost every day. We make each other laugh, and I know where to find her if I need to blow off steam. She in turn knows that I’m always there for her if she’s feeling down or needs to vent. She knows my deep, dark secrets. I know at least a few of hers.
Our lives are very different, but it turns out that this isn’t a problem. Distance and differences are small things when you’ve found someone who cares.
I wish I could share some of our conversations with you all, but you’d never respect me again.
If we’d met in person, I’m sure I never would have talked to her. But because we shared one interest, because one of us (probably her) reached out to the other and said, “Hey, I’m new, too– you want to swap customs?”, I have a friend. A good friend. Maybe a best friend.
True, none of my blog friends, my NaNoWriMo friends, or the people I banter with on Twitter were available to help me move crap out of my shed when we found out it was getting torn down. None of them can tell me who to call about getting my kids’ vaccinations up to date around here. I don’t have anyone I can call if I need a babysitter. I can’t take supper over for them when there’s a death in their family, or help out with their kids’ birthday parties.
But these days, “real life” isn’t just what happens close by. The e-mails I get from people who are worried when they think I sound depressed in a blog post, the honesty I can expect from the beta readers I’ve met here, and the joy I share with Facebook friends when something huge and wonderful happens in their lives… you’d better believe those are real.
So thank you to all of you who have become my friends.
But seriously, all of you are going to need to get your butts over here and help me move stuff back into the shed if they ever get around to re-building it.