Here's a picture of me all by myself in Santa Monica. I do not have a picture of my meet-up with Chris @ Dharma Bum because I am lame like that.

So, who is this person you’re meeting with tonight?

My husband is asking this, in our hotel room in downtown Los Angeles, as I’m slipping into heels and grabbing my cell phone to go out alone to met this guy, whom I’ve known online for the past three years.

Actually, my husband knew exactly what I was doing. When I decided to tag along on his business trip, I had a goal of meeting at least one, if not more, of my California blogging friends.*

Mostly he was teasing me, that husband of mine. The whole reason we were in California was social media and building online relationships.

He wrote a book about it.

He gets it.

Still, this was something a bit different. It wasn’t a blogger shindig or even a small gathering. It was just two people from opposite sides of the country. This was new territory for me.

Preparing to meet someone who up until now was a two-dimensional image, a string of words, an illusion in some ways, was totally unnerving. But also I’m a bit of a thrill junkie, so doing this seemed all kinds of fun and challenging at the same time.

Have fun on your date, my husband says as the door slips closed behind me.

As I wait for the elevator, I consider the dynamic of online relationships. Are they authentic relationships? What is the difference between an intimacy of words across the miles, and  shared space and experience that maybe does not include deep dialog? Is one more valid, more enriching than the other? Do I know some of my online friends better – perhaps more intimately – than the friends I have in real life? You bet. There is safety in distance. Could I have the same one-on-one fun and ease of self in real life with online friends I’d just met, especially without the benefit of a big blogger event? That is the unknown quantity.

When I started a blog almost four years ago, I was on a quest to change the course of my life. I had no idea where the road would take me. Chris’s blog — Dharma Bum — was one of the first few that caught my attention. (Thank you, Foolery. ) He has inspired me in some wildly unexpected, life-changing ways. He continues to do so.

The nature of personal blogging is to share, vent, educate, inform, illuminate — you name it –something with your readers. If I crack open my carefully sealed shell and reveal some things about myself, in return, my online friends do the same and thus if we find common ground, something builds.

So, you ask, how was my Internet date – the first one involving air travel and a leap of faith?

Pretty damn fantastic.

Thank you, Chris, for not being a serial killer or some false persona. Thanks for asking the questions and listening to the answers. Thanks for the inspiration, the motivation, the ideas, and the great dialog. Thanks for feeding my crazy caffeine habit.

I think I found a kindred spirit.

California was pretty nice, too.

*MamaMary Show and San Diego Momma, damn the distance and clogged freeway systems. I do hope our paths cross someday.

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16 thoughts on “IRL

  1. This reminds me that it’s been MONTHS since we met up ourselves. And we live–what, half an hour apart? Dammit.

    I’ve been bad with the socializing lately.

    Also, I’m JEALOUS JEALOUS JEALOUS of your sun. Well, the warmth really. We have the sun, just not anywhere NEAR the warmth. I’m sure that makes you miss Michigan so much right now. 😛

  2. Molly: Thanks. Real dates? I’d be in trouble with a capital T. I stick to the fake dates.
    TeacherMommy: It has been a long while. We should meet for coffee and play catch up.

  3. First of all, you are gorgeous. Secondly, I have made such good blogging friends, but never met face to face. The more stories like this one, convince me not to be so hesitant. Thanks.

  4. Meleah Rebeccah: Glad to hear it. Hey, they should stage some kind of big blogger get-together once or twice a year and charge a lot of money and get corporate sponsorship and .. Oh, never mind.

  5. Deb: Modelesque! (Don’t look at the one over on Chris’s blog.) I’m bummed, too. Hey, we may land in San Diego someday, too. I’ve heard it is quite lovely there.

  6. come to blogher with me this summer. please!! you’ll get to meet those awesome san diego ladies!!
    glad you had a great time and you weren’t murdered by a serial mommy blogger killer.

  7. Oh, this post makes me so sad to see you sitting there, only a few hours away from me. It was just such bad timing. Ugh! I am going to campaign with Melissa to get you out for BlogHer. You can skip the seminars with me and just go to the parties at night. 🙂 I’m glad you ended up having a good trip. It was perfect SoCal weather for you. One of these days!!! xo

  8. Mary: I know. I was sad, too, that we were so near, yet so far. However, I just may entertain the idea of going back out there if I can skip the conference and get the plane fare.

  9. This is so interesting. I’ve read a few posts about bloggers meeting their blogging friends. It makes my palms sweat. Despite spilling my guts online, I’m still shy deep down. I think I would be terrified. I admire your bravery. Clearly, you experienced something awesome. It’s a good lesson for me.

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