by jess lewis

if you had told me five years ago that i would get to know a slew of amazing people online and actually meet a handful of them in person (and make it an annual thing) i would have said  you were off your freaking rocker. THAT is not normal. normal people don’t just meet other people on the internet and get on a plane to hang out with them for a weekend! what if they’re psycho? they could really be a sixty year old man pretending he’s a thirty somethingish woman! (don’t ask). you could go out for drinks and then they might stuff you into the trunk of their car! you may think you know these people but you could end up putting the lotion in the basket if you know what i mean. (why does that sound dirty? or is it just me?).
funny thing those interwebs. they’re full of so many communities with their own little niches. it totally makes sense that you would find people you share common ground with. it’s as easy as typing whatever your interest is into the google search box and hitting enter. so you spend some time floating around, maybe lurking in said communities, for me it was knitting blogs which led to flickr, and eventually dialogues start happening. comments get left on blogs, photos get the mark of the pink star, nice things get said about photos, emails start to go back and forth,’re forming some bonds, you feel like you’re getting to actually know some of these people! so, plans get made, flights get booked and your family may think you’ve temporarily lost your mind and are secretly wishing they had implanted a tracking device in your neck while you were asleep. just in case.

for me, the first time i made that leap into the world of turning virtual friends into friends IRL i thought maybe i had lost my mind. i tend to be kind of shy, so i was really  anxious. i was terrified of discovering we had nothing in common (you know, besides being female, mothers, wives, sisters, knitters, picture takers or whatever), that i would offend somebody or that we’d be sick of each other after the first day. (that would have sucked). instead, i found that my nerves abated instantly.  now, each year the conversation flows more easily whether we are talking about parenthood, fake flare, the awesomeness of white vignettes or just gossip in general. laughter often abounds to the point of bringing me to tears  (just picture a minivan full of mothers passing around a tub of fart putty and losing their shit over it. hey, i never said we were mature.). we walk the streets of whatever the town taking photos, eating good food paired with good beers and enjoying each others company. chances are at least one person will arrive home after the weekend with a new tattoo or a piercing. i don’t think it was planned, but in that first group meeting a bond was forged and a routine was being set. we started discussing where we should meet up next and could we please find a way make this happen quarterly instead of annually?

now, each year we try to get as many of us together as possible to cram as much fun as we’re capable of into one weekend. and each year i now look forward to these weekend getaways because i’ve found a place in a group of  fun, crazy, compassionate women who love to laugh, take amazing photos and tell great stories, are great listeners and true cheerleaders, curse as much if not more than i do, appreciate a good beer, think nothing of drinking wine from a box and know how to work some  pussy fart putty. i have a circle of friends that i don’t see often enough (some i have yet to meet in person), but i know they’re there if i need them and vice versa. friends with whom i can be honest, vulgar, snarky or vulnerable with. all because i took a chance to meet a few people i got to know online.**

have you taken that leap yet? have you turned virtual friends into friends in real life?

* IRL is a term i just recently learned and i won’t lie, i had to verify it’s meaning on urban dictionary before i posted this for fear that it meant something entirely different. the internet likes to play jokes like that on me.

** and no one has tried to get me drunk and stuff me into a trunk.



Post a comment
  1. Jill #
    May 23, 2012

    I’m pretty sure Dave just expects me to come back with a tattoo or piercing each time. And sorry that my imagination works overtime with the whole trunk thing … we’ll chip you next time.

    • May 23, 2012

      just remember i get easily distracted by beautiful people dangling babies in bars. call it a weakness. it didn’t help that the weather was amazing and the bar was outdoors.

      i’m with dave, if time is willing, i expect it too!

  2. May 23, 2012

    Love it!!!! And bonus to find other women that can truly cuss….sounds like good times to me!!!!

    • May 23, 2012

      absolutely a bonus and nothing but good times! glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. May 23, 2012

    loved this one…i know what you mean…the first time i met an online contact IRL was in 2007 in London…seemed weird back then…but now just a given! Excellent shot btw, brings back good memories of you awesome ladies. I still appreciate being included in some fo the pussy, i mean putty fun 😉

    • May 23, 2012

      holly, we had a great time seeing your wonderful city and can’t thank you enough for showing us around! a great time was had by all and i look forward to the next visit!

  4. pencilfox #
    May 23, 2012

    true story: in 2010 mister pencilfox told me “you never go anywhere….why don’t you go visit one of those gals you type to online….??”
    i threw it out there, into the interwebular spaces: “if i happened to be in your area, could we meet up in person?”
    so out of about 10 gals, only one responded, and the answer was “YES!!!!”
    i visited her for about 4 days. then she came to alaska for about 4 days.
    i consider her one of my truest and best friends at this point in my life.

    great post.
    i love visiting “overexposed + underdeveloped”….!!!!

    • May 23, 2012

      only one!! that’s crazy. those other people need someone to give them a little shove! i understand the thought of taking that first leap may be terrifying to some, but it’s remarkable how worth it the outcome can be.
      it’s great that mr. pencilfox encouraged you to do that. my husband has been nothing but supportive of these trips and has never found the online relationships weird and for that i’m grateful.

      we love that you keep you visiting! thank you!

  5. pencilfox #
    May 23, 2012

    we didn’t get drunk.
    we didn’t get tattoos.
    we didn’t get stuffed into trunks.
    but we DO laugh and talk and do very fun things together….!

  6. lisamac333 #
    May 23, 2012

    i LOVED reading this…you took the words right out of my head…all truth and yes, I’ve taken the leap…no regrets…ever! I hope you are one of the travelers coming to Carmen’s this Fall…I’ll be there!

    • May 23, 2012

      you better believe i’ll be there! i look forward to meeting you! and yes, no regrets here either. i encourage more people to take that leap!

  7. May 23, 2012

    I’m so thankful that we didn’t find you in a trunk. I’d have no idea how to contact Matt. So then I probably would have left Philly and then the authorities would have found your camera. Wonder who the girls were fucking that putty. Found me. Thought I had something to do with it because we knew each other online. Spent hours investigating me. And finally said, “You did it. No one fucks putty and doesn’t put someone in a trunk. We’ll find the evidence later.” God I wish these thoughts didn’t cross my mind…

    • May 23, 2012

      you’re making me think we need to exchange a list of emergency contacts next go round. we could also call it the ‘who to call for bail money’ list. that would probably be more of an apt use of such a list.

  8. May 25, 2012

    That ink was a bitch to get off. I walked around with a faint “fuck yeah” on my arm (and my knuckles too) for at least a week and a half. Next time, let’s use crayola washables, okay?

  9. joelynnej #
    May 25, 2012

    I thought IRL was some weird US thing, like the IRS. Thanks for clearing that up. 😉

  10. boldbohemian #
    May 28, 2012

    I have met people online who have been friends since 2008 and we plan a trip to St. Louis this year. Why St. Louis? It is in the middle for all of us.

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