My "friends" are my friends.

(image from http://www.sodahead.com)
 This past weekend and the events within was one of the neatest experiences of my life to date.  For the past 5+ years, I have been in correspondence with a group of women through online forums.  It started with a simply google search for baby names, before I was even pregnant with Keegan (I may have been suffering from a case of baby fever).  I stumbled upon a website that had a baby names wizard and somehow ended up intrigued enough to read some of the conversation on the forum section of the website.  Next thing I new I began participating in the conversation as well, and though there were 1,000s of members on that particular site, I communicated with a select handfull on a fairly regular basis and we began to build friendships.

Eventually, the baby name website was bought out (I believe by Nickelodeon actually) and it was determined that the whole forum would be publicly posted.  Since many of us had spilled life stories that we didn't really want paraded for any ol' googler to find, a new forum was formed and a handful of members that had formed a bond through the larger site continued to correspond.  I followed.  A year or two passed, and that forum divided- people changed, lives changed but the ties formed by a select group remained and two friends and I created a final forum which we have run for almost three years.  It's a small group, and membership is private so we can be very honest and real.  We've laughed together, cried together and learned together.  We've been there for each other through pregnancies and losses, the experiences of new parenthood, the stresses of the real world, finances, family struggles and family triumphs.  Through it all, one thing has remained constant- the friendship.

I never thought I'd make some of my greatest friends on the internet.  Prior to the forums, I never really had friends in other states, just ones that had moved to other states that I'd known locally.  Now, I have friends across the country, who respond daily to the things going on in my life- it's so crazy to think someone thousands of miles away cares about my day.  However, it's not crazy when I realize I feel the same way.  These friendships are some of the closest in my life.

In all the years we've corresponded, one thing was missing- the chance to actually hang out in person in one place.  A few months back, I decided to randomly attempt a forum meet up- I threw out a date and a tentative plan- and was thrilled to discover it was very well received!  Next thing I knew, plane tickets were being purchased and I was preparing my house for 5 ladies and 2 babies to stay with us!  I wish everyone from the forum could have come out, and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to have met a few of the ladies before and I hope I get to meet everyone soon!

A funny thing is that all of our husbands have casually teased us about our "pretend friends" or our "internet friends" and a few even joked when their wives shared their plan to come stay with me in CA for the meet up "how do you know you're not going to get their and then they're just going to rob you or something?".  But, this weekend- it was nothing but friendship and fun and bonding.  It's the weekend this group of "friends" became friends.  I can't believe it's already over, and I'm still experiencing the post-friend-visit let down/sadness, but I'm coping as best I can.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend- I can't wait to see these girls again! (And hopefully the other forum members too!)  We're already planning our next meet up for 2011! 





4 comments:

  1. It looks like a really fantastic time and I wish I could have been there! I hope I can make the next one!

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  2. Awww!! This just made me cry! It was truly a fantastic experience, and although I am sad its over, I am so glad we were able to make it happen!

    Very well said, Nat!

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  3. I've cried too much lately, damn you! ;)

    LoL though... where is the "like" button when you need it???

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  4. LOVE IT!!!!!!! My friends and I did this exact same thing last year! We hoped to make it a yearly occurrence, but that was before I moved to Peru. We're hoping to make the next meeting IN Peru!!!!

    I just adore my online friends, too!

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