Friday, March 5, 2010

Friends in Far Places

When I started blogging, I knew little about it. I did not know anyone else who had a blog or even how to find other bloggers. I just knew I wanted to keep an online journal and blogging seemed like an easy way to do that.

As time passed, I discovered others out there writing about some of the same things that interested me. I found Tipper at Blind Pig and the Acorn writing about her Appalachian roots; I found Small Pines writing about his desire to escape New York City for the quiet of the Adirondack mountains; I found Suzanne at Chickens in the Road discovering what it is like to live on a small farm in West Virginia; I found Becky at Twisted Fencepost writing about life in her rural area and occasionally about her West Virginia heritage. I found Dave at Appalachian History, sharing historical documents and rare stories. I found Glanbrydan's weblog and Lee and Rowan and the Weaver of Grass in the England and Wales. And I found Susan in Ireland.

Susan's blog instantly attracted me. Her witty style, droll humor and frankness combined with her ability to neatly target insights that startled me at the same time they had me laughing and nodding my head in recognition made me an instant fan. I've been following her writing for two years and still find it as fresh and surprising as I did when I first stumbled on her posts. Life in Ireland isn't all green men in tights and beer (although maybe there are more green men in tights visible when there's more beer). It's much like life in these states--trying to make a living, care for children, deal with bad weather, get published... (Well, the last might not be on everyone's list, but for bloggers it seems to be a goal for most of us.)

One day when I opened her blog I saw a muddy river that immediately said 'West Virginia' to me. Was Susan in my state? She was, it turned out. A few months later she was back again and this time we were able to meet her and her family when they came for a visit to my house. It was more fun than reading her blog, and that's saying a lot.

Sometimes people question the value or depth of online friendships. Can you really get to know someone well if your only means of doing so never or seldom includes face to face meetings? I am here to tell you--yes, you can. For almost 15 years I have been a member of Storytell, an online storytelling group. I've met well over a hundred members over the years, have stayed at their homes or had them stay at mine. Our friendships are real and abiding. The same kind of friendship developed with Susan.

So when I shared my terrible news about my son here, I knew it was a community of friends who would read and respond. Who would know what devastation such a death could bring and who offered shoulders and words of comfort.

The other day Susan wrote a post titled Inspiration and Ford-itude about our internet friendship and once again her insights--this time about me and my family--caught my breath.

Thank you, my friend. When we meet again in person, I will be looking for that big hug. And there might possibly be a bit of beer (or wine) to share along with our stories.


Susan at Stony River said...

Oooh, you got me back! (I love it!!) Yes, we need another visit, and I can't wait to return.

I've been amazed to find that some blogs, like yours, have been magic doors to a friend's house. I was saying to Martin just the other day, that with all the updates and deep-thinking we share with each other, I know some of my blog-friends so much better now than some of my own family I've lost touch with!

(and gladly LOL)


Jai Joshi said...

It is amazing how blogging opens up such a network of friends to us. I'm glad you had that little extra support from the bloggers to help you get through this time. Every little bit of friendship helps.

Susan sounds fabulous, I'll have to check her out.


gigi-hawaii said...

Yes, I am so happy that Susan pointed me in your direction, Sue. You both write so well, you should seriously consider publishing a collection of your blog essays!

Aloha and mahalo from Honolulu, Hawaii.

Tipper said...

I'm so glad we met through blogland :) And I agree with you totally-about the friendships we make online being as real as the ones we make in our daily lives-and that-is a wonderful thing indeed!!

Twisted Fencepost said...

I totally agree with you about meeting new friends through the blog world.
Sometimes I wonder just how I managed before.
I love meeting new people and making new friends. Like you!

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