Blind Frates & Friends You’ve Never Met Before
Take me back a year or so ago and I was packing my children into a car, about to drive them to a house of a lady that before I did I had to ask her what her real name was as I only knew her as ‘Just Juggling’. A lady who had invited me and another mum she had never met before over to her house for lunch. Who jokingly told us her friends said to call them as a back up in case we were axe-murderers. Two ladies of which had shared my crazy sleep deprived new parent-ness, but had no idea how tall I was or what my voice sounded like.
To 5 years ago when I was walking around Lakeside shopping centre looking for a different lady with long blonde hair who I knew liked the same books as me, shared the same love of films & whom I was hoping to have lunch with.
Or perhaps 3 years ago when my 9 month year old son and I had packed up a picnic and drove to a park in Camberley, on the back of a blog post from a lovely red-headed lady whose daughter was two months older than my son. Where I went on to meet several lovely Mums of which I had to ask their Twitter handle first in order to work out who they were.
Just over two years ago, I was cursing my Sat Nav as I worked my way around streets in Farnborough to find address it didn’t believe existed. To meet a a woman who may have since actually given up Twitter, but has not stopped being my friend. A woman that shared and listened to my frustration of trying to conceive when I didn’t believe it was ever going to happen, because she had been through the same herself.
Then there was November last year, where I walked shivering in my coat as I nervously checked my What’s App messages to make sure I was heading towards the right place in Kings Cross station. Waiting to meet a group of bloggers who had become my blogging friends and confidantes, scanning faces to see if any matched their profile pics.
Or perhaps you should fast forward a couple of months to the hotel room I have booked in April, for a wedding of a lady I’m not completely sure what she looks like as I’ve only ever since about 3 photos of, but it’s not unusual for me to speak to her on a daily basis. An invitation I was so touched and excited by.
I started using Twitter in 2009. The only reason I started was because I had a job interview and the person interviewing me had seen and interview with Stephen Fry were he was talking about this new social media called Twitter, and they wanted their brand to start using it. I remember my first tweet and thinking what the hell should I actually write here. Little did I know that I would find a place to meet and chat to lovely people around the world. A place to connect and exchange ideas. People I may not know, but I do know, and care about.
A few years ago there was a lady who I regularly chatted too. She shared her desperate search for work. How money got so tight some evenings she would have nothing more than a Muller rice for dinner, because it was the choice between food or petrol for a job interview. One day, in the cold of winter she shared how she had counted her money & didn’t have enough money for her electric meter. She was going to have to sit there in the cold & dark. I messaged her & said I wouldn’t blink at spending £20 on a takeaway and I would be happy to pay the money into her bank account there and then so that didn’t have to happen. I would have done it too. I just couldn’t imagine sitting at home on my own in the cold and dark. She politely declined. But even though we rarely chat anymore, a while ago when her circumstances improved she told me she would never forget that. But in the same way I will never forget her and her determination.
There are people I haven’t ventured out to meet, yet at least, but some I still love to chat too. A wonderful woman who shares her journey of sobriety and recovery from domestic violence. The same woman who when I was stressing about someone looking after my dog when I went into labour messaged me and said she would happily have him. A fellow bookworm who can keep me chatting late into the night about books we both love and can make my buy new ones as we both share the same taste. Two women who shared almost the same due date with me for our first babies, with whom I shared my pregnancy woes and joys. An older lady who has daughters a similar age to me, who always goes out of her way to ask how me and my family are. There are so many others I could mention who regularly message me if they haven’t heard from me in a while, across a whole range of ages and background and maybe in just one small thing we have a connection.
After both of my children were born, I received cards of congratulations from several people I had never met before, sharing their delight in my news.
Everyone talks about online dating. But what about online friending? Ok, I *may* have made up a word there, but I have been on a few blind frates. And out of those, bigger and longer term friendships have blossomed. So far none of them have been axe murderers.
I have plenty of friends I have never met, some I may never meet, but I genuinely care for. The online world may have its faults and there are definitely days when I need to put my phone down more. But it is also a world I am grateful for. There are indeed foolish trolls out there, but there are also some fabulous people.