Should Our Online Friends Stay There?

woman in front of computerOur online friends to me are like our celebrity crushes and idols. They seem so wonderful from waaaay over there. But do we really want to meet them over here? I've had two celebrity idol/crush encounters: To make two interesting but very long story's short: The idol was mine-- singer/songwriter Carly Simon. The crush was my friend Maria's: Actor Jackie Earle Haley. I met them both and they were both amazing.

But when people online say: "If you're ever in ------------ call me. We can meet up." I never know who really means it and who's just using it as an expression like: "How are you doing?" "What's up?" "If you're ever in Des Moines..."

I've become pretty close with a couple of women from the infertility support sites. We've even texted occasionally and talked on the phone once or twice. But to put away the electronics and meet face to face?

Well, we took a trip  to New York two weeks ago and stayed on Long Island, home to many things and many people including one Monica Bivas who tirelessly runs The IVF Journey support group on Facebook.

I had a poster that I wanted to give her. To demonstrate how well-versed I am in the uncertainties of getting together with people and how frequently plans fall through and how I didn't even know if I was going to have time in this vacation to meet this person or if I even wanted to make time to meet anybody while I was on vacation... I mailed the damn poster to her on Long Island two months ago, which worked out spectacularly because she, it turns out, was in South America at the time. (She did get it upon her return.)

I ultimately decided that this might be a rare chance to meet Monica and that I shouldn't pass it up. Lately, I've gotten a little addicted to watching the show Catfish where people create fictitious identities online to get unwitting strangers interested in them for one reason or another. But since I have no money and Monica never promised that she'd leave her family to be with me, I felt safe enough.

Like I said, I'm always skeptical when I make plans with most people. Something usually goes awry. So Monica and I planned to meet the Saturday before the Tuesday we were due to head home. I confirmed with her. She confirmed with me. I confirmed that I got her confirmation. Then, that Saturday morning, I got a text from her. Her daughter was sick. She wouldn't be able to make it. Typical... We're leaving in three days, I guess that's that. And yet... it sounded legit. But even if it was true, which I was sure it was, it was still a good excuse to bail. But then she texted again: "How about Monday?"

Well, Monica lives about thirty-five minutes from where I was staying. (There's a reason it's called Long Island.) In parts of New York, and the town where I was is one of them, you don't give up your parking spot for anybody because it may be a very long time before you find another one. Also, Tuesday, I'd be driving twelve hours, so that car wasn't going anywhere on Monday. Do you know this Monica person drove the thirty-five minutes to meet me?

My other apprehension about meeting her was that she has so much online energy. I'm rolling out of bed each morning, trying to get my left foot into my right slipper while I look at Facebook on my phone through my one un-pasted blurry eye and see that Monica, two hours ago, posted about the latest foods recommended for fertility and introduced this week's guest speakers: One who is the leading IVF doctor in Asia and the other who did the first artificial insemination on Antarctica, the story of which Steven Spielberg is making into a movie. I thought meeting her in the park was going to be like flying a kite on a blustery day. She was going to be blowing around in a million energetic directions while I made lazy, half-assed attempts to rein her in.

Monica is one of the few people who actually looks like her Facebook photo... even more beautiful...damn it. We just sat on a bench and talked... and talked... and talked... about our lives, religion, writing, our infertility experiences, positive energy... on and on for two hours until we both had to go on with our day... It truly was a highlight of my vacation. She infused light back into my relative-induced emotional black-out.

So, Jackie Earle Haley, Carly Simon, Monica Bivas... I'm three for three. May all of the Mets hitters have my batting average.

(For more laughs at infertility's expense: Please check out my eBook to the left or at Amazon, where it's been downloaded by 1000's of infertility patients & professionals: Also available on Nook & Kobo)