December 17, 2008

When Real Life and the Internet Collide

Shortly after I went off of my birth control back in 2004, I joined an online community for women trying to get pregnant. After a few months of browsing through the forums I noticed a post put up by a girl trying to get pregnant with her first child. She was looking for other women to start a buddy group with -- a group of girls to chat with about the struggles and frustrations. Her intent was to have a small circle so that everyone involved would feel welcomed and included. I had tried my hand before with some buddy groups, but they always got too big and it was hard to keep track of everyone. So with the hope of this one staying small I responded to see where it would lead to.

This was back in January of 2005. Throughout our time together on that online community, 9 members drifted in and out of the group. The dynamics of the community changed and we opted to take our group to another website to chat. There have been a couple of disputes and a falling out, but 6 of the original 9 are still very close. We post on our board daily and offer support no matter what the situation. Some in the group have moved on to subsequent pregnancies; some are happy with 1 child; some are still battling for their first.

The friendships that I've formed within this group of girls is amazing. They've kept me sane when I've felt like I'd been beaten down; they send flowers and gifts to celebrate the joys. It's always amazed me that a group of people who had never set foot in the same room together could be so close. More than once, C has teased me about my "friend in a box".

Over the last few years, we've talked about trying to get the group together for a vacation. We throw around some ideas and tentative dates and then lives get busy and it gets pushed to the wayside. "Someday" we'll all get together...

That someday finally came to fruition, with one friend in the group.

Back in October, C told me that I needed to get away and have a weekend to myself. To get away from it all and be Mandy for the weekend, not just Mom and Wife. He wanted me to make a trip to New Jersey and take the opportunity to have some face to face time with Kristen. Some careful sleuthing on my part, put me in touch with her husband and we began to hatch a plan. A weekend was decided on, tickets were booked and the excitement began to build. I ran scenario after scenario through my head about knocking on her door. What would be the best way to pull this all off? What should I say and do to get the best reaction?

Surprisingly, her husband and I kept it from her for almost 2 months. I flew into Philadelphia on a Friday afternoon and had the weekend to spend with her and her family. As I walked through the airport into the baggage terminal, the butterflies began to flutter. I felt like I was getting ready for a blind date.

What if she didn't like me in real life? What if we couldn't hold a conversation when sitting across the table from one another?

About an hour after landing, her husband and I pulled up in front of their place and I had to keep myself from running to the front door. As I lifted my hand to announce my presence, I could feel the tears welling in my eyes and a lump building in my throat.

When she opened the door, the look on her face was priceless. She truly was at a loss for words. Which is rare for her!

My hope is that we don't go another 4 years without a visit.


Kristen said...

That was by far and away the best and biggest surprise of my life! IT WILL NOT be another 4 years before we can sit and have a beer together. Love you!

Kristin, Rod, and Victoria said...

Okay, how did I not know about this??? That's so great that you got to go out there. I'm sure a part of you felt a little guilty that you didn't have KT with you, but good for you for doing something like that! This is me, jealous yet again.

Lost in Space said...

Wow, this brought tears to my eyes. I would be lost without my online buds too. I'm so glad you were able to meet!