So: faraway friends

Love or hate social media, it’s here to stay. To inform us of world events that our local journalists might not be reporting on. To tell us what’s going on in our hometown. To discuss PR gaffs and career suicides. And that’s only this week.

For me, it often brings wonderful surprises on days when things aren’t exactly going perfectly. That’s what happened yesterday.

I didn’t have much time to take breaks during the workday and it was a very long day. But when I checked Facebook quickly after a meeting ended a tiny bit early, I received Surprise #1: A post from my pal and former co-worker Shannon. While eating at Swiss Chalet (a rotisserie chicken restaurant) in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Bruce posted that we were there and, I think, took a photo and tagged me. Shannon, who now lives in the Caribbean (lucky girl!) saw it and messaged that she missed the Chalet dipping sauce (a hallmark of the restaurant). When I got back to Dallas, I messaged her and offered to send her a few packets (they’re sold in the supermarket and you just add water and boil to make it).

I’m not sure if she thought I’d really send it, but I did:

Shannon's treat

Shannon’s treat

 

She got the packets and my note yesterday and posted to Facebook the photo and a thank you. Apparently it got there close to her birthday (it’s taken several weeks to get to her little island) so she was doubly thrilled at the timing.

And so was I. As you know I love to write notes to people, even to strangers through More Love Letters. I was so glad to make someone’s day just a little better.

Little did I know that my somewhat stressful and very action-packed long day was about to get AWESOME. A while back, I saw that my “friend,” artist Lisa Loria had posted a photo of a beautiful jewelry box that she had painted and I inquired about it.

First, let me explain “friend.” Lisa and I are Facebook friends. We have never met. We do not live anywhere near each other. But we have tons in common including a love of gardening and making stuff from repurposed items. And we’re both pretty sure that we’d enjoy spending the evening together on a nice patio, wine glass in hand.

The main thing we have in common is a long-time real-life mutual friend (ok, he’s a ex-boyfriend) who we are also Facebook friends with. Our mutual friend is the same guy who introduced me to Bruce. I’ve known him longer than I’ve known Bruce—over 20 years!

Lisa and I were constantly posting pithy comments and liking each other’s zingy retorts to said mutual friend, so I thought she’d be someone I’d love to know. I knew she was an artist, but I didn’t know much more about her. Still she said yes to my request to be Facebook friends.

One day I saw that she posted a photo of a larger painted jewelry box that she had done for herself. I had a similar jewelry box from my childhood, a gift from my parents when I was probably 12 years old. I had kept it all these years for sentimental reasons, not because I actually used it. And I really didn’t like how plain it was. It was ivory and rather bland.

So I asked Lisa if she’d consider painting it for me. She would have carte blanche on the design because I liked her work I had seen on both Facebook and her blog. I said she could fit it in when she had time. I was in no rush to get it back.

She accepted the commission. Whoooohoooo!

I emptied it out—I sorted through it all, kept a few things for my brother’s daughters, “found” a few things I had forgotten about, and donated the rest. And off it went to California, the place where it had originally come from (well, it was probably made in China or somewhere else, but you get what I mean).

Yesterday, at around 7:30 pm CT when I was still at the office, working on a huge project with lots of moving parts, I saw Lisa’s post  and the picture that she tagged me in. The jewelry box was almost complete! Oh happy day! It was so beautiful and I absolutely loved it.

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By 8 pm, she had finished it and posted another picture. And by 8:30, her status was a blog post about the jewelry box and our unique friendship created by an ex-boyfriend and Facebook. You can read it here  at http://lisaloria.blogspot.com (she’s also got more pictures of her jewelry boxes if you’d like to see them).

It seems this is a week of retrospection regarding friendship. I’ve read several blog posts about friends they’ve never met, people have talked to me about reconnecting with long lost friends and the new friends they’ve made by participating in social media. My personal rule about being “friends” with people I’ve never met is that if we lived near each other, they’d have to be someone I’d sit down with in a café or bar and have a drink and a conversation. Or eat a meal with.

Bruce and I have some long-time friends that he “met” through a chat room (how ancient) on a singer’s website. He chatted with them for years and got to know people from all over the U.S.

One day, we decided to meet up with a bunch of those friends from Detroit so that we could all hang out, eat dinner and see a show. It was amazing – but really shouldn’t surprise me at all. They were all people that we had something in common with. And through the years there have been more concerts, visits, dinners, roadtrips, and backyard bbqs. Several visited us in Toronto, one friend has even visited us in Texas and another may be coming when the surface of the sun temperatures get cooler, perhaps in October.

Speaking of travel, I’m on the plane right now, so I should wrap up this post and get on with working since it’s about when my day normally starts. But here’s your gratuitous harvest photo from yesterday morning:

photo

Have a great day—maybe you can make a friend’s day today too.

 

 

 

 

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So: time stands still

So after an action-packed 2 days of entertaining pretty pretty princesses, Uncle Bruce and I hopped the Pacific Surfliner to Irvine.

If you’re ever in Southern California and you don’t want to deal with traffic on those infamous freeways, I recommend Amtrak highly. You’ll sit back and relax. You can read. Listen to music. Enjoy refreshments. Treat yourself to stunning ocean and mountain views as the train chugs along. You’ll arrive at your destination and feel like you’ve had a mini-vacation.

Waiting at our destination was our long time pal Shane. Bruce has known Shane slightly longer, although only maybe a year. He is our perpetual bachelor friend, the one with beautiful bikini-clad girlfriends galore. He has many So Cal dude toys like motorcycles and jet skis. He goes to clubs and underground parties. His life is always story-worthy and after dinner with him your stomach hurts from all the laughing you’ll do.

Shane is the reason why Bruce and I met at all. Through a very loose introduction, our Southern California pal gave a guy in Toronto and a gal in Northern California a reason to chat on the phone, write letters and fall in love. If we would have had a best man and maid of honor at our wedding, Shane would have been it.

Bruce met Shane on a Contiki tour of Europe. Yes, the bus tour infamous dragging hungover 18-34 year olds past all the famous sites in record time. Shane and I met at CES when I was working in a booth. He was quite mean to me, trying to stump me with all sorts of technical questions he thought I wouldn’t know (wrong!). He wouldn’t leave me alone, but later sent an apology package filled with t-shirts and stickers from his company.

For a bit more than 20 years, we’ve all been friends. And while its easy to keep in touch via Facebook with pithy comments, photos and likes, it’s not the same as a conversation over dinner.

At Shane’s favorite Thai restaurant we laughed a lot. We talked about how our jobs were going, we heard about Shane’s love life/upcoming guys dirt biking weekend/crazy ex-girlfriends who still pop up from time to time.

And for a moment time stood still. The moment has repeated itself many times over the years. Sometimes all three of us are there. Sometimes it’s just two. But when dinner’s over and the waitress is eager to get us out of there so she can flip the table, it makes me happy that such a random connection endures after all these years. And while I was sad to say goodbye, I know we’ll all see each other again, perhaps randomly while traveling for work or maybe a more lengthy planned visit. With Shane one never knows.

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