Maybe you have a wonderful social life.
Maybe you meet friends for coffee at least once a week. Maybe you host a monthly potluck. Maybe you belong to a religious community that’s within easy driving distance, and maybe your regular attendance there fills your soul.
Some of us are less lucky.
Some of us live far away from family.
Some of us have moved time and again, leaving behind a trail of distanced friendships.
Some of us live in places where our interests don’t match those most common in our communities, and we have a hard time finding a place to fit in.
Some of us work from home, and miss out on the casual camaraderie that builds up day after day among people who work together.
Some of us are shy.
Because all of these are true of me, I am so grateful for social media.
Yesterday’s mail—the old-fashioned kind—reminded me of the debt of gratitude I owe.
Here in Girdwood, where we all go to the post office to pick up our mail, sometimes there’s a slip of yellow cardstock in our boxes. In bold black Sharpie, there’s a list of PO box numbers, all crossed off except for the one at the bottom of the list—ours. We take the slip to the counter, and exchange it for a package.
Yesterday, there was a slip in our box, and next to our box number it said (2), which meant two packages. Yay!
Willa and I had ventured out to the PO in the Ergo—a new skill for us. And we’d taken the dog. Bringing two packages, the baby and the dog all back home to the condo was daunting, but we made it home just fine.
One of the packages came from Bellingham, Washington, and the name on the return address was Aadsen. I remembered that Tele had asked for my mailing address recently on Facebook.
Inside the box was a wonderful, handcrafted, upcycled hat for Willa.
Tele’s note said, “Whole-hearted congratulations to all three of you! I expect it’s getting cold up there. I hope the enclosed fits . . . although there must be enough love in your family to keep everyone plenty warm!”
The note was written on a handmade card; on the front was a photo taken by Tele’s honey, Joel Brady-Power. The photo is called “Endurance.”
Tele and I met through blogging, and became Facebook friends. We have never met “IRL.” I love Tele’s storytelling voice, and her commitment to her craft pushes me to return to my own writing. I’m grateful that she considers me a friend.
The other package came from New Jersey, from Rachel, whom I’ve known since childhood.
Rachel’s card said, “My dear Willa—Welcome! I am so happy you are here! I made you this quilt to remind you of several things—how much you need family, how to have fun, that life is to be lived and explored and that you are loved and cherished by many. May this keep you warm and comforted and surrounded by my love till I can hug you myself!”
Rachel and I were best friends all throughout our teenage years, and into young adulthood, but we had a falling-out when I was in seminary. It has only been in the past few years that we have reconnected—through Facebook. In a life where so much has cast me adrift from my past, Rachel has become an important anchor.
I’d love to have weekly coffee dates with Tele and Rachel. I can imagine a potluck where Tele brings a beautiful salmon she’s caught herself, and Rachel brings a decadent dessert. I’d love to join a religious community with broad enough borders to welcome all three of us.
But that’s not how it is right now.
Truth be told, I suspect that most people live fragmented lives, just like mine.
And for us, there’s social media. That’s what (Facebook) friends are for.
Thank you, Rachel and Tele, for the beautiful gifts, and for your friendship.