There’s a reason for cliches such as this. In ways unexplained, people and circumstances are drawn together. In an affinity, a warm, glowing feeling that spreads with seemingly no foundation, conversations click, relationships made, journeys continued before we’d even realized they’d begun.
One such journey began in 2012, though I was not yet aware. As I typed the first tentative strokes birthing my blog in January of that year, Charlotte of Momaste went about her business a few mere miles down the road. One day seven months later, in a burst of breastfeeding genius, her blog was born. About a year later, I discovered the light and love and unabashed truth of her blog when its SPOT-ON post, Touched Out, was Freshly Pressed. She gave voice to the heretofore dysfunctional and guilt-inducing tendencies I’d been seeing in myself as a mother. I’d found a kindred spirit.
Depression – postpartum and otherwise. Anxiety. Mindfulness. Breastfeeding. Trying to balance selfhood with motherhood. Yoga. Puns. Writing. So many connections.
And then she posted a picture of the view from the end of her street. And I saw the same bay I could see out the window of the house I’d started my family in and just recently vacated; the same one, admittedly, I had an imperfect view of, too, but still reveled in mentioning. Not only were we from the same state, we been living in nearly the same zip code.
I felt even more of a kinship. I had a scaffold in which to place her ruminations and observations; a visual schema her scenes unfolded against, even if I wasn’t on the exact street.
We bandied about the idea of meeting for quite some time. Fellow bloggers can attest to the feelings of friendship engendered by genuine, heartfelt comments and the uncanny ability to pin pieces of your own gray matter on their own sites. Still, with our young families, no concrete sense of who each other was, and both suffering from anxiety and possible cases of social awkwardness, the time never presented itself, nor was never found, to meet.
Then I registered for a conference in Boston for survivors of postpartum depression. The excitement leading up to the real-time introductions at the conference led to whole lots of conferring online beforehand. If strangers were becoming friends for that, why not my other ppmad peeps? I reached out to Charlotte and floated the idea of traveling to Boston for the conference. That plan didn’t hash out either, but it created a real impetus for our meeting irl, as they say, which finally happened yesterday.
The thoughts going through my head as I drove to meet her were akin to what I’d imagine if I were in an episode of Catfish. My ten year-old daughter, in an annoying yet pride-provoking manner, had pointed out that there are dangerous people on the internet, you know. My mother relayed the message that my grandmother was very nervous and didn’t want me to go. I said I highly doubted this woman would turn out to be a 47 year-old male axe-murderer – not for the sake of a blog meet-up. Charlotte and I did do the awkward blind date eye-contact, avoidance, cut through the coffee house, then back out onto the deck greeting. She affirmed that yes, she was not a man and no, she did not think a 47 year-old axe-murdered would go to so much trouble writing blog posts to lure in a victim – particularly ones about breastfeeding.
That was the first of many laughs on this my first blind date with my first online friend meeting in the flesh.
We swapped stories about our kids, our spouses, our writing, our work, our struggles, disappointments, triumphs, and joys. Most rewardingly, we shared the same space – psychically and emotionally. The whole simpatico thing worked in person as well as it did online. While our stories differed in their twists and turns, we got it. There are as many differences as similarities, but we respect the journey each of us is on and support each other.
When Charlotte checked whether it was time to pick up her daughter, I realized I’d lost all track of it. While nearly two hours had spooled away, it felt as if we’d just started our conversation. I experienced almost the same feelings I’ve had when I realize I haven’t caught a friend up on the crush of things that’ve happened since our last visit – even though we face the stretch of time before our next one. And we had to get caught up from the beginning!
But there’s always the next cup of tea – or chai in this case (to which I will have to add copious amounts of milk if we visit the same place as it was mighty strong). There’s time for friendships to grow – online and in real time. And there’s the universe – that has already proven it’s got our backs in bringing us together.
Momaste, Charlotte: the mom in me so bows to the mom – and lovely human – in you.