July 30, 2008

Blue Ridge Blog, part two

Saturday was spent lazing around. Ben was glued to the TV and I and my parents read and visited the library. A perfectly slow day.

Sunday was considerably busier. Ben and I rose early to drive him down to his camp in Zirconia (population: 40? plus campers). It was an easy drive through the mountains, and the camp’s registration process was so quick that Ben was gone in a flash. Well. I was done earlier than I thought.

At the last minute before we left Indiana I had made very quick arrangements with Java to see if she could meet me in nearby Hendersonville, about an hour from where she lives. We exchanged emails and phone numbers and agreed to meet “somewhere” around noon. I had an hour or so to kill, so I looked—of course—for someplace that had free WiFi. The chain restaurants in the area did not have it, so I went into a hotel lobby and asked if I could use my computer while I waited for my friend to meet me. The man at the desk was quite gracious and said, “Sure.”

With a few phone calls for directions, Java found me in the hotel lobby. We sat to chat before leaving for lunch. We realized at 4:00 that we still hadn’t left the lobby. At 5:00, common sense and hunger intervened and we left for dinner.

I had a great time with Java. Who wouldn’t? She’s smart, funny and compassionate. She tells a great tale, too; she had me laughing the whole afternoon. We confirmed that we had a great deal in common, too. Each of us has hit that “second wind” period of our lives, looking for something more, some way to make a difference. We have found it in trying to gain equality for the gay community, each in our own way. I am lucky to have found a friend in her.

Our talk was circuituous, one topic branching to another and back again. We debriefed on the latest blog entries and our favorite bloggers (that’s you). It was so great to be able to talk face-to-face about events happening in the blogosphere.

I’d forgotten how time has a different role as we communicate online; it weaves in and out as bloggers post and comment. Bloggers are connected in a fluid fashion, responding when time and mood permits. I think that’s one of the unintentional illusions of which we must be aware: in real life, there are times when we are rushed or tense and still we must interact, unedited. We see this in our friends and know them as complex individuals. That complexity is compromised by the editing we do in presenting ourselves online. And I include myself, of course. You haven’t seen the deleted sentences that show I’m sarcastic or impatient or self-centered or judgemental or—well, you get the idea. At the same time, I can express myself here in a way I find quite difficult face-to-face, so a depth is present that might otherwise be hidden. But another blogger once commented, “If you know only my words, you do not yet know me.” Wise words for all of us.

After dinner I had to hurry to pick up Abe from the Asheville airport. He and I drove back to Highlands, and Java returned to her home in South Carolina. Busy day! But I had met another blogger friend. The two times I’ve managed to meet fellow bloggers have cemented in brief visits the friendships begun online. If you have the chance to get together with someone whose blog you’ve read and admired, I highly recommend it. Take it from this genuine introvert: risk reaching out and expand your circle of friends in the real world.


Bear Me Out said...

I hadn't been keeping up and didn't know you were in my neck of the woods. If you're coming back through Asheville, I'll be glad to let you know I'm real, too.

Well, as real as I can be.


evilganome said...

I'm happy to hear you met Java.

My experiences so far with meeting other bloggers has all been positive. I hope you get to meet Father T. He is a wonderful guy as is Chris.

This little blogger world is a strange place, and I know a lot of people have been very upset by the "Nicky" incident. I'm still not quite sure what to think about it all. I do however know, because I have met them, that there are a lot of really wonderful people out there who are willing to share at least part of their lives online.

Greg said...

So true about how we present ourselves...the time spent pondering the right word, the back-spacing, mood editing. I'm sure it'd be quite comical to have a truly "live" blog.

Aren't you clever about the hotel lobby for meeting...little realizing you'd camp there all day. Sounds like a fun time of sharing...

Java said...

Lovely post, dear.
Interesting observation, the difference between our carefully edited written thoughts (OK, careful editing for some of us :) ) and the randomness that flows from our brains and out our mouths when we speak.

One thing I like about speaking, though, is that I don't have to spell a word correctly before I say it.

Dantallion said...

If you have the chance to get together with someone whose blog you’ve read and admired...

Guess I'll have to make my way down to Indiana again... :)

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Well I have not met any bloggers in the flesh yet, however I have spoken to four so far and they seemed like great guys.I agree with Java that you can get a lot of your thoughts out faster without worrying about using 'spell check' haha!

Paul said...

Birdie –

I’m sure that it was a real treat for you to meet Java. You’ve both very kind souls.

One question. (OK, maybe it’s a series of questions.)

You mentioned here that — as you’re looking for a way to make a difference in your “second wind” — that you’re trying to help gain equality for the gay community. If you wouldn’t mind, please share more about this (maybe you’ll devote a post or two to the topic).

Of course I’ve seen your comments on many of the gay-oriented and gay-friendly blogs for a while — before you even started writing yourself. But how did you get there? How did you find the blogs you regularly read? What was your motivation for searching out these sites?

What’s your personal connection? (I know that you once said that you think Ben may be gay. Is that it? I’ve also read what you’re trying to do through your church.)

In your dreams, what would you like to accomplish? What can we do to help?

Birdie said...

Paul, thank you for your thoughtful questions. I'm working on a response this evening, although it may be awhile before I can post it.

Although I hope it's clear that it won't matter one way or another to me, I don't believe Ben is gay. (I know the jury's still out.) But he was accused of it as a means to bully him in middle school. He suffered what many gay kids do and paid a terrible price that I'm sure will stay with him the rest of his life. Perhaps at least he will understand and act to prevent it happening to someone else.