05 November 2011

Day Five - Internet Friends

Thirteen years ago, not long after we settled in Maine, I joined a local homeschooling group and one of the other moms came over to my house for a visit. She brought her daughter, and while our children played, she asked me if I knew about the homeschool bulletin boards online. This was 1998, folks, so while I had email and had definitely surfed the net, I only vaguely knew about bulletin boards.

She set me up on a popular board, got me a user-name and password, and I was good to go. I visited the bulletin board each day and began to recognize a few familiar names. One gal I'll call Janet, befriended me and we occasionally chatted over email.

The next thing I knew, there was DRAMA on the bulletin board (those homeschooling moms can be a wild crowd, let me tell you.) Janet emailed to tell me that several of the moms were tired of the drama and the back-biting (most of which I was still blissfully unaware) and they had decided to start their own little group - a group that would communicate over an email loop. Turns out Yahoo had a thing where we could send out one email and it would go to all 10 gals. Who knew?

Now, over a dozen years later, those other 9 gals have become some of my dearest friends. Again - who knew? Since that day in 1998, we have shared successes and tragedies, laughter and pain, agreements and frustrations. We are scattered all over the country, with one gal in Canada. Over the years, most of us have met in person at least once; sometimes one on one and a few times in small groups. We've watched each others' kids grow up by sharing emailed photos, and many of us have met each others' kids during visits. Today, most of our kids are grown, and many of them are friends with each other on Facebook. It's kind of a trip.

I have other internet friends, as well. One lady I "met" online six years ago while building my Wicked Good Maine website. Although she and I have never met in person (alas, she lives in California), we talk regularly and I consider her one of my closest and most trusted friends.

I have another friend I met on MySpace, who also lives here in Maine. We are now friends on Facebook and we talk occasionally, but we've never met in person. But it FEELS like we have.

Since then, I've made friends through writing groups, through this blog, and of course, through Facebook.

How is all this possible? I remember years ago when we all were a bit afraid of the internet. One gal on my email loop told us for years that her husband didn't want her to try to meet us in real life, because he was sure we were all a bunch of weirdos or axe-murderers. Since then, we have a running joke about being axe-murderers. And by the way, her husband was right about us being a bunch of weirdos.

Let's face it, Maine can be a wee bit remote, especially in the winter time. Often, as I was homeschooling my children and it was too cold to venture out, these women were my only connection to the outside world. I treasure them as I treasure my family.

Thank you, my friends, for living inside my computer all these years, and for always being there for me, whenever I need you!

Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes

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