On Saturday morning, I leave you to sleep in and go to meet a friend at a cafe in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. I haven’t met this particular friend “in real life” yet, and, generally, you marvel at this, my network of internet friendships, my total willingness to meet people off the internet, except this friend is different because we’ve been in the same online writing workshop all summer, have gotten to know each other pretty closely through our writing.
That’s pretty cool, you said as I was getting dressed. You were still in bed, yawning and stretching, the blanket sliding lower down your body. I almost wanted to cancel on her and stay, almost wanted to get undressed again, slip back into bed with you.
I swallowed that aside, though, and said, I’ll bring you a biscuit, instead.
It’s interesting and a bit nerve-wracking meeting people in person because you never know what they’ll be like, even if you’ve interacted with them online, even on video. You never know how people might expect you to be as well, and the room for mutual surprise can really go either way — I’ve met people in real life only to realize that, oh, maybe we aren’t meant to be friends, maybe we should have kept this friendship on the internet where we could have the cover that internet curation provides.
I’ve been doing this for a while, though, making friends online and meeting them offline, and maybe I’ve become less sentimental about the whole thing. Maybe i’ve done some personal growing. Maybe it’s just okay that you’ll get along with some people and not with others and that’s fine. Maybe there’s no need to attach heavy meaning to every single human encounter you have.
When my writer friend comes in through the cafe door, I immediately recognize her. She’s much taller than I expected, and I’m kind of jealous (I’m tall myself, but the greedy part of me wishes I had one additional inch of height). (You’re taller than I am. I like that.) We get breakfast (she generously buys me my egg and bacon biscuit), and we settle down at a table by the window. It’s easy, this camaraderie, and I’m relieved — I love her writing, am very interested and invested in the book she’s writing, and it’s nice, this sitting with someone in a sun-drenched cafe and talking craft and books and life and crap. It’s nice, talking to someone who understands the struggles of writing, who shares similar ambitions, who has read your work and shared hers with you and sees you as you are for who you are and the person, the writer, you’re trying to be.