Letter from America
By Ellen Neumann
Sullivan County, New York,
June 28th 2012.
My previous three articles have run the gamut on the topic of friendship. I have told of my youthful friends, my BFF, my disappointments and my successful friendships that have lasted a life time. For this, my last article on the subject of friendship, I want to tell you of a magical and magnificent world in which I have made wonderful friends and acquaintances; a world until just a few short years ago I did not even know existed. The world of which I speak is not in a parallel universe nor is it a pretend figment of my imagination. Can you guess? I will give you a hint: *www.makingfriendsincyberspace.com.
I had been using a computer for many reasons since 1998. Email, genealogical research and travel planning come to mind. I started the never-ending process of learning to navigate and understand the World Wide Web. I was clueless and frustrated yet determined to succeed. My nieces were involved with cyber-dating. The concept of “meeting” people on the internet was unsettling to me. I guess I was afraid of the unknown and masked my fear with indignity. Eventually circumstances found me on the computer one very late and isolated night with nothing to do and no one to talk to. I had been introduced to MySpace [a social media network that has now pretty much become a dinosaur] by the nieces and wondered if I could make some new friends or at least find someone to chat with in the wee sleepless hours of night. Could I? Should I? Ah hell, why not!
I started by looking for people in other countries; far away would be safe I thought. I had recently visited Ireland with my darling mother and both of us had fallen in love with the warmth and friendliness of the Irish people. My first friend’s invitation was sent to a man who lived in Virginia, Co Cavan, Ireland. When I clicked my mouse and sent the invite, I had no way of knowing that this man was to become one of the very best friends I have ever been fortunate enough to possess. How did I choose his from the thousands of profiles you may wonder? First of all, his surname was familiar to me; a name that exists in my own family tree. His profile showed him to be a married family man and home owner who was interested in gardening and photography [me too!]. He was not looking for romance or intrigue but instead friendship and interesting company [again, me too!]. All these things contributed to my decision to send the invite. Today in my heart I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that fate or God brought us together.
Over several years we became friends on the internet, sharing our writings, poems, hopes and dreams with each other. Time passed and we moved our friendship to the telephone and then some 17 months later when my mother and I traveled again to the Emerald Isle, we met in person and solidified our already precious relationship. I met his lovely wife and two children. We are now all great friends, minus Mom who passed away not too long after this trip. When she died, these wonderful people cried with me for the mother I had shared with them and then lost. To this day we are as close in mind and heart as any people can be. Without the internet this would not have been possible. Thanks to it, I took a chance and extended my hand across the Atlantic Ocean. Long arms, small world!
I have since then met hundreds of people via the internet. I have made other dear friends who I have met or plan to meet in the future. There is a woman in Australia who is planning to come visit me here in the USA next year. We are both so excited! I have made a dear friend in Kilkenny who is a seer of sorts. She feels what I feel and can tell when things are going to happen. For real!! Both of these women call me “Sis”. I like that too! How very lucky I am to have met these girls in cyberspace! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this possible.
Yet it has happened since that first night when I made a friend and broadened my cyber horizon. I now am unafraid to make a friend in my own country, even in my own state. I have a lovely friend in Maryland who is fragile and strong at the same time. She is an old soul I think. Happiness eludes her at times yet she sees the good in the world. I met a woman in Albany, NY who is always upbeat and funny, sharing my passion for genealogy and family, a girl in New Jersey who shares a common tragedy with me and a woman who takes the most incredible photos I have ever seen.
I have also reconnected with old friends with whom I had lost touch over the years. They are some from school, some from work and some from just plain living. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter make this possible. I am at a place in my life where I care to know what became of John or Leon, Susan or Bill. I have learned so much from and about long lost friends and in doing so about myself.
I want to end this four-part series by saying that I treasure each and every person who has ever extended their hand to me in friendship. You have brought joy, delight and fellowship into my life. Although I am not always on my game, I have striven to be the best friend I can be to you. Thank you for loving me and showing it in so many ways. I am blessed to call you friend, no matter when or where. You are an important and dear part of my life. I treasure our friendship: then, now and always.
*this is an imaginary website
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