Sleepovers were hard for me when I was a kid. I would make friends with a girl at school, play at her house all day, and inevitably my friend would think that a sleepover was a terrific idea. And I would agree, right up until about 9pm. That’s when I started thinking about everybody at home getting ready for bed without me, and how different and weird things were at my friend’s house, and then I would tell my friend and her mother that I was going home. Sometimes my friend would cry, sometimes not. Either way, once I decided I was going home, that was the end of it: I packed up my shit, gave them the deuces, and walked home. Which, looking back, seriously, parents?! You really let a ten-year-old girl leave your house and walk home by herself, without calling her parents to give them a heads up? Who the hell was I hanging out with? Is it okay to still use “it was the 80s” as an excuse, even if it was really the early 90s? Because there was quite a bit of overlap in terms of style and, apparently, attitudes towards parenting.
My point is this: I get spooked easily by new social situations. This is why I got married — so I would never have to go to a party by myself ever again. But then I decided to go to BlogHer and meet all these people I have known for years online but never met in person, and suddenly there I fucking was, getting ready to go to a weekend-long party all by myself. What if (not likely) they weren’t as nice as they seemed to be online? Or what if (much more likely) all of these women who I thought I was friends with actually didn’t like me? I wrote down directions to get back to my hotel in my notebook and practiced fake “well, gotta go!” excuses in my head. Just in case.
Friday morning found me wandering through what was essentially an enormous lunch room except instead of hanging gymnasium lights there were big-ass disco lights, which I felt was a little too over-the-top for breakfast, but whatever. Instead of bolting or sitting at a table by myself in the back, I sucked it up and found my two O.G.s of blogging friends, and let me tell you: hugging those women was one of the weirdest, most exhilarating, and rewarding social experience of my life. After that, it was a hug free-for-all: the rest of the day, whenever I came across someone I knew, I hugged it the fuck out with them, and it wasn’t weird or awkward at all.Nicole, Stephanie, and Kim
Later that night, I went to a book-signing event for a kick-ass anthology that includes contributions from a ton of my friends. I shyly watched as this amazing group of women I have grown to love over the past year each added a short message to the title page of my book. When the last signature was added, I put the book back into my bag without even glancing at it.
When a friend asked me why I didn’t read their messages right away, I told her I was saving it for the next time I convince myself that no one actually likes me. I laughed when I said it, but I wasn’t joking. I’m still that weird seventh-grader who is only 75% convinced at any given time that my friends really do like me. I can still hear that dorky, bad-perm-having 25% mumbling to me that I’m just tagging along, that everyone is painfully aware of how awkward I feel, that I’m trying waaaaaay too hard to insert myself into conversations and truthfully? I should just go pack up my shit, give everyone the deuces, and walk home.
But then we all stuffed ourselves silly with pizza and gelato, and I forgot all about that stupid bullshit.Nicole and I started a new trend: double selfies.
I know that people meet online friends in person all the time — I mean, I do watch Catfish religiously, so I am aware that this is a thing that the kids are doing these days. But even when people meet and it works out well (i.e., the secret person is actually transgender or morbidly obese or, in one very confusing episode, not transgender, but everyone is okay with that and HOORAY FOR INTERNET LOVE), there’s always those first few awkward moments when your brain has to figure out how to reconcile the fact that you know this person, but you don’t actually know them. With my friends and I, that weird brain argument didn’t happen. We just accepted that our friendships were magic, that everything was fine, and then commenced to party our fucking faces off.
Oh yeah, and I went to sessions, and I learned a lot, and blahblahblah LOOK AT ALL MY INTERNET FRIENDS!!!!!Kelley, Anna, Karen, Tara, and DG!
Ladies: you are welcome to sleep over at my house any time. Just don’t invite me to your house, because I’ll probably want to leave and I’m too goddamn lazy to walk anywhere these days.