I keep getting lost in the past, going through the photos I transferred to this new computer. This particular shot, taken in Dallas in 2004, reminded me of the old chat room crowd and how close we all were.
Most chat reunions I attended were held in Dallas, thanks to a wonderful lady named Frankye, who opened her heart and home to anyone who wanted to attend. She did this every April for nine years (I think). She made arrangements with the hotel so all the "roomies" could be near one another, and she planned all sorts of activities for us. Sometimes people who didn't want to spend money on a hotel room would actually spend the three days of the reunion at Frankye's house. That's Frankye, second from the right, standing next to my buddy Joanna, with me behind the two of them.
At the first Dallas reunion (in 1999?), most of us had never met face to face; but once we got together and established just who was who, conversation was easy. We were already acquainted because we'd spent so much time sharing our likes and dislikes in the chat room. We mostly called one another by our AOL screen names if they were pronounceable at all. That's how I became Mo.
This picture was taken in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2001; it was a one-time event. Dear Lord, look how slender I was! That's me kneeling (I wish I could kneel now) in the center.
Until the year 2000, I had never flown on an airplane. Actually, I couldn't afford to. And besides, the thought of flying scared me. Once I started my job at Kohl's, I had some spare change; so I went to "reunions" in Dallas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas. I also flew to Washington, DC, to spend several days with Joanna (known as Banana, due to her screen name); and to Virginia to visit my friend Sue (JoyJoy). I even wrote a song about her once, and made up poems for many of the roomies.
The man in the picture between Jo (not the previously-mentioned Joanna, another one) and myself is a former chat buddy I've totally lost touch with. I don't even remember his real name; we all called him by his screen name, Havok. He taught me more about the Internet and AOL than any other single person; I think he helped everybody in the chat room at one time or another. He also played an occasional prank on us rookies. One time I recall several of us were in the chat room and he told us to hit ctrl/alt/delete; at least half-a-dozen of us were booted off-line.
Ah, the good old days. As I've gone through these folders, I found pictures of people from a later chat room; I didn't even know who most of them were, and so I deleted them. There was an entire folder of pictures of children sent to me over the years by Lori, down in Louisiana. I looked them over thoroughly, smiled at how they'd grown (and how Lori and her husband had multiplied), then deleted them with a sigh. I still keep in touch with her, and see pictures of her kids regularly on Facebook.
I deleted sonograms of former co-workers' unborn babies; pictures of coffeepots and cameras I downloaded from the Internet to use on my blog; blurry and repetitive pictures; and plenty of pictures of folks I just don't recognize.
It's quite an experience.
Meanwhile, I think my rear end has become attached to this chair.