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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Odd friends...

Not really "odd" As in Strange, but rather, odd as in Odds and ends. This is not to say that they are by any means the last friends or the ones that you don't know what to do with, but more the ones that seem to have the most interesting stories either in the meeting or the living with.

There are all kinds of friends in our worlds, we have Old friends that we have known since childhood, the ones who know some of our deep dark secrets, the ones that we may not want knocking on the door if we run for political office, the ones who know what we looked like before the Nose Job! We have Work friends, whom we only know from work, it is lucky if we actually know their last name let alone how to reach them outside of the workplace. Yet we seem to know everything else about them, family's troubles, vacation plans, how much they pay or receive in child support, way more than we really should for someone we only know in one sphere of our lives. There are our Bar friends and our Team friends, and College friends, Military friends and even the Friend of a Friend friends, but then there are those rare people that we meet in some unexpected and often odd way, perhaps you shared a room in a hospital, or your children did. Maybe you met by accident, literally, when you backed into each other at the super market. But the ones that I am actually referring to are probably the newest odd friend out there, the Online Friends. These are people that you have met through no particular effort to make friends but rather through a shared interest in something that you found online. Many people will go the rest of their lives only ever knowing these friends by their avatars and their Messenger Id's or AIM names, or Skype, Google, ICQ or who knows what else. You may know their email address and never know their home address, or perhaps you have exchange paper christmas cards and not just ecards. Maybe you have been brave and sent them actual pictures, or if they were local you met at a bar or a restaurant. You find out that not only do you share the interest that you have already shared, but a whole slew of others too. We never know what will bring us together whether it will be a common singer, and interest in a particular artist, A comic strip, or knitting with hand-spun angora yarn. Who knows what you have in common with your online friends, but they are your friends and they are often only your friends, not anyone else in your family, or for that matter anyone else you know. They are better than an imaginary friend, but just as much yours alone.

Life can give you some interesting twists if you are willing to explore beyond the end of your front porch. A little over 11 years ago, not too long after I began in earnest to look around the internet and discover the new world that was there for me, I began to make some of my very first online friends. It happened quite by accident, I was looking for information in the best way available at the time, I was posting to an online message board looking for tour information for my then current favorite singer/songwriter Fiona Apple. After I posted my question, I came back the next day and found this laundry list of subjects under discussion and some I felt the need to enter my own opinion about, so I did. Well, I never did get the information I was originally looking for, but I ended up with this core group of people who all basically felt the same way about most subjects and had a lot of interesting things to say. The funny thing was that at the time this group ranged in age from 16 to 53 ( I'm guessing here at the 53, but the neighborhood is close!). It was about 10 people and there was at least one family connection in the group. We were scattered across the country from Maine to California, Oregon to Florida, as well as a few scattered through the midwest. Over a couple of years we kept in contact and had lots of interesting discussions and arguments. We always defended each other and had a blast learning new and interesting things about who we were, where we lived and what we did. When the youngest of the crew were old enough to do so we planned a meeting. We decided that a cool summer vacation would be the best way to do this and since the biggest concentration were on the west coast, that was where we would meet. And we did just that, we traveled across the country in our chosen chariots and we congregated in Los Angeles, California in July of 2000.

Of that core group I still have contact with three of them regularly and one or two sporadically. One of them turned out to be my mental twin. we have the same ideas at the same time from the same stimulis. It' is rather disconcerting at the beginning , because you are never ready for someone to throw your own thoughts at you as fast as they are coming into your own head!! Thanks Johnny! We stayed mainly at the apartment of one member all congregated in a four room two bedroom, two bath apartment on Shenandoah. But we also invaded the home of another set of friends too. These were Johnny's Mom and Step-dad, Mummy and Scotty. Two of the coolest people on the planet. Knowing us from only the internet and our words on the screen, they opened their house to us (and especially me, I will elaborate later) and we had a great time. And these three people are still in my life to this day. Why do I say they opened there house especially to me? Because they decided to take some long deserved vacation time from their jobs and show me California on a motorcycle!

It had long been my dream to ride the Pacific Coast Highway. Now I would truly like to ride it from San Diego to Vancouver, but I knew that this would be way more than I could do in one little vacation, so I decided to follow the advice of the natives that I knew and they showed me The best part of the road. We took a 5 day 1300 mile journey through California. On the first day we left Orange County and headed north, getting on PCH in San Luis Obispo and riding that twisting, turning, beautiful two lane blacktop all the way to Monterrey. The next day we looked around and eventually headed inland to visit Yosemite National park. 2 days later we toured through Kings Canyon and Sequoia National parks. Then we did some real highway riding and I got to travel through the Grapevine. I saw Bakersfield, and Big Sur, Carmel, and Hurst Castle, Morrow Bay, Whales and Dolphins. Grants Grove, Old Dome, Bald Dome, Tioga trail, and who knows what else. The journey itself would make a nice book, but there are loads of pictures to prove it!! And two of my favorite people in the world as accomplices and witnesses! LOL I rode a motorcycle through rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, California and survived! It was cool.

Then there are the Surprise friends that you meet online. Maybe you meet them in a chat room, or a a discussion group, but it is a place where you truly don't expect to find them. I have one of those too, and I met her in person that same summer. As I recall it all started over a discussion of firearms and who should and shouldn't have them. Being the radical that I am, I truly believe that all law abiding citizens should have and be trained in the use of weapons. Since the criminals have them it's only right that we do to. Anyway she agreed with me. And it turned out that she even backed up this statement by being married to a Police! Imagine that!! So we double teamed the opposition and beat them into submission that day. And as we laughed about it afterward we talked about other things too. A few days later I found her in the chats again and we talked some more, finding commonalities in tastes and humor, we discussed anything and everything that could possibly come up between two adults. The anonymity of the chat persona probably made us both bolder than we might normally be, but it became a regular thing that we would get together online and share the daily stories and the trials of our lives. She with her 2 kids and her awesomely cool, Policeman Husband, me with my big dreams and always trying to do something that I probably should but always manage to survive and thrive from. She was going to Paramedic school I was working nights in a factory, but while our worlds were a million miles apart, our minds were running parallel rails, we had tons to talk about and laugh about. She was cool out there in the Midwest, telling me about her great weather, while I was freezing my butt off here in western NY. She was looking out for Tornadoes while I was enjoying spring breezes. She was suffering through a drought while I was wishing it would stop raining. She went to school and raised her kids, I went to work and tried my hand at new things all the time, looking for my passion so that I could eventually pursue it for profit, and not feel trapped in a job I hated. Pretty soon I was planning a trip that could easily take me through her city, would it be okay if I stopped in and met her in person? Sure why not! So when the big day finally arrived, it was funny, after all the talking and discussion online, when we were actually together in the same room it took a little while for the words to start flowing the same as they did online. But eventually they did flow and the laughter and smiles came out free and easy, and I found out that I had met a person who was also just like me, but not me . I had me a second twin that made us triplets!!

So all of this leads me to this, Sometimes it is these odd friends that give us the most pleasure, even though it is rare that we get to actually see them, and we may go weeks and months with nary a word, but when we connect, we seem to fill in the blanks quickly and succinctly. Sometimes we stay in touch constantly, with big letters and awesome pictures and video. But it seems that these Odd friends are truly the best friends that we end up with, because we don't have the opportunities to screw it up, by getting drunk and doing something stupid and irredeemable, or borrowing money and never paying it back. There are a million things that break up friendships, but the Odd friends have some insulation from us and our wanton ways, and so they can last, and because they have been so much like us for so long it is pretty much a given that they will remain on our wavelength barring electro-shock therapy.

So heres to my Odd friends, some of my best friends in the world: Lynn, Renny, Mummy and Scotty. I love you guys and hope that you are my Odd Friends for many years to come!!

1 comment:

Serenity said...

Trollster! THANK YOU so much for your winning tribute. I can't tell you how much you mean too me either. I am proud to tell you that your are my bestest 'odd' friend ever!!! By the Gawds help us all everywhere