This morning’s installation ceremony for our newly-settled minister, who’s been with our church for more than a year, was more interesting and moving than I expected. Though I’m still biased against churches, as a class of institutions, in many ways, this church (Unitarian Universalist Village Church) refutes my bias. It is open and encourages free thought and intellectual growth. It readily accepts atheists and doesn’t try to change their minds, only to open them. But that’s not why I began writing this post. No, the weather triggered my decision to write.
Powerful storms are moving across the state. We’ve seen some pretty powerful cells move over us, causing strong winds, thunder, and torrential rain. At the moment, the rain seems to have let up, but cracks of thunder echo and roll at frequent intervals. I imagine more rain and wind will follow. Just now, a deep thunderous growl shook the house. I suspect the ground under the house flinched and winced at the sound.
Before the weather sidetracked my thoughts, I had planned to document my thoughts about meeting online connections in the flesh. I’ve written about the topic before, but I doubt I’ve completely emptied my thoughts on the matter onto the page. So I’ll have another go at it. Another online friend’s recent posts about meeting other online friends prompted me to think about it.
My first meeting with an online connection took place in New York City. There, I met Teresa, who lived in Syracuse. She made the trip to NYC at my behest. My wife thought I was out of my mind, wanting to meet someone who could be an axe murderer. “What do you know about her?” I didn’t know much. But I was relatively sure she was no axe murderer. She was intelligent, funny, witty, and a poet…possessing many of the qualities I like in a person. I enjoyed my online chatter with her so much that I thought I might be in love with her, which could create an awkwardness of enormous proportions in a face-to-face meeting in the presence of my wife. But it turned out that I was just enamored with her, not in love with her. At least not in the traditional sense. That meeting, and the subsequent meeting, with her was exhilarating. I absolutely LOVED meeting someone I’d only known online. We had drinks, dinner and then during another meeting we rode the train together for a short time during a sad time when we transported my deceased brother-in-law’s ashes from Boston to Aurora, Illinois. I still wish I could find a way to join her on her annual travels by train to Nova Scotia. Ideally, some of the bloggers and other online friends we share would come along. Phil. Bev? I don’t really know which ones we both know.
During our second trip when we met Teresa again, we met another online connection, Larry. Larry and I have a tremendous amount in common, though there’s a vast range of things we don’t share. For instance, he’s an accomplished guitarist; I’ve held a guitar once or twice. But he took us to a Greek bar for a look-see and gave us a tour of his neighborhood. And he introduced us to a restaurant that serves one of the best grilled octopus dishes I’ve ever had. He even offered us a place to stay, though circumstances conspired against that happening. Larry knows another of my connections, about whom I’ll write in a moment, Robin. They grew up together, I gather. The online and personal connections we share are amazing.
After Teresa, I had occasion to meet Kathy face-t0-face when I went to southern California to testify in a fraud case (in which, it turned out, I never testified). We planned to have dinner together, but the district attorney screwed that up by asking me to spend the evening talking about my testimony. Still, I met Kathy and her husband for drinks and we enjoyed a short visit.
Later, during a visit to northern California to visit my sister, I met Robin and her husband, Roger, and Tara in Sacramento. My wife and I took a train from Oakland (or was it San Francisco?) to Sacramento and had a wonderful lunch with the three bloggers. While we were there, we met our friends Bob and Susan, who had recently retired. And, then, we met another Kathy (whose last name I knew only at the last minute for good but what seemed like mysterious reasons) for breakfast.
Still later, we met another online friend, though not a blogger, in Florida during a trip to visit my wife’s friends. This online friend, Juan, lives in New Port Richey, not far from the Tampa/St. Pete area. We went to his house and met him and his son and enjoyed drinks and conversation around his pool. We marveled at his lifestyle…the quirky college professor whose political views coincide almost perfectly with mine!
Oh, another one I’ve met face-to-face is Bill, aka William, a publisher who lives in Corpus Christi. I connected to him through Juan. And Bill asked me to submit something for inclusion in a compilation of materials from authors with Corpus Christi connections. So I did. And we went to Corpus Christi for the book launch, where I met Bill in the flesh.
Is it possible I’ve missed anyone? It is, but I hope I haven’t. I want to meet other of my online friends. I’d love to meet Chuck and Sid and Liz and Melodee and Cheryl and Steve and Jennifer and Phil and Chip and (of course) Bev. And Audra. And Sky. And Donna and Henry…the list is probably endless.
During the course of scanning my blog for mentions of other online connections, I somehow found myself at a post I wrote in July 2013, utterly unrelated to the topic at hand. I doubt anyone but me has ever seen that post and, perhaps, that will be the case henceforth and forevermore. But on the off chance that someone might read this post all the way through, I’m including a link to that post because, when I read it today, it brought tears to my eyes. I don’t know if that’s simply because it brought back memories or because it’s a piece of moving writing. If anyone is feeling generous, tonight, I’d love to get a reaction to what I wrote almost six years ago. Here’s the link: https://johnswinburn.com/unexpected-attachments/
I hope you’ll forgive me for pandering. That one post just moved me. I wonder if anyone else finds it moving. I don’t get much feedback (which is okay, inasmuch as I don’t seek it). But sometimes it would be cool to know whether anyone reads what I write. And, if so, whether they find it a waste of their eyesight.