In one of my past lives I used to be a scrapbooker/card maker. I was all kinds of into it. I was part of message boards, involved in teaching classes, went to conventions (near and far), worked at a store and even got paid for my creative work. But part of me never quite fit in with all the rest of the paper crafters. I was spouseless and childless. While they were completing pages about their husbands and 2.5 children, I was completing pages about travelling and scenery and dreams.
At the time, the majority of the products centered around family because the industry was based out of Utah and the Mormon Church. The idea of completing a record of their family history lead to an industry in the crafting world that consumed it for a decade or more. But I had no immediate family. And the cute kiddie products and family products weren't me.
Eventually I found a message board dedicated to people like me in 2004. People who didn't didn't fit the mold. We spent time on the message board and got to know each other. We talked about our lives with each other on the message board and through emails and chats off the board. It became a place were I could go and speak freely about what was happening in my life, good and bad.
In 2005 I went to Arizona, where my family had a condo, for a winter vacation. I met 4 of those women.
A year ago last December I got a call that one of these women had died. I've done a lot of thinking since then about what these women mean to me. When I try to talk about them, people in my immediate proximity stare at me confused. They're unable to understand how friendships can be formed when you've never met the person face to face. Yet, they don't take into account how powerful the Internet is. How connected it makes you feel.
So this April, 13 of the 34 of us are getting together in Chicago. We're going to celebrate Traci's life. We''re going to hug each other in person. We're going to talk and laugh and cry. We're going to plant a tree in Traci's name. We're going to vent and get angry about her death and other things. Mostly, we're going to make the connection we already have, just that much stronger.
I can't wait.