My friend Joanna has visited Missouri twice now, both times in April. Both times, the weather has been atrocious.
April is not reliable in these parts: You might get sunny, verdant days with trees blossoming; or you might experience below-freezing temperatures, tornadoes, rain and mud.
We got the rain again. The only sunshine Joanna saw here was on Friday afternoon. I kidded her Saturday about sleeping in a trailer house during tornado season; I don't think she slept too well that night for wondering whether the wind she heard outside was just a harmless wind, or perhaps a tornado.
It was wet and cold; that pretty well describes the whole weekend. But we enjoyed one another's company, as well as that of the others who gathered here.
Joanna and I could not be more opposite: She's a "girlie girl" who loves to shop, watches a lot of QVC, and enjoys nice clothes and jewelry. We all know that isn't me. Normally the two of us probably have never given one another a second thought, had we met in the real world. But we connected in a chat room.
Yesterday Joanna mentioned the time her cat, Jake, fell off her second-story deck.
"I remember that," I interjected. "Didn't that happen one morning before you went to work?"
"Yes, it did."
"We were in the chat room when that happened!"
Many of us from that chat room have gone through similar things together. I recall Joanna's years working for an employer who thought he was master of the universe; Jo called him "the twit". I was in the chat room to hear the good news that she had found a better employment opportunity, and she took the job she still has today. She could have retired some time ago, but why stop working if you're enjoying what you do?
I remember Joanna's sister getting cancer and steadily going downhill. Jo and the others were there for me when my mother died.
Several ladies in that chat room became widows during those years, and we all shared in their grief.
We shared recipes and jokes and family stories; we sent songs and silly sound bites to one another to play in the chat room. It was like a sort of cyber back fence where we could visit and share our lives, laugh and cry together.
We could have these friends over for a visit (by way of the chat room) and not have to clean up the house for them, or get out of our pajamas, or even comb our hair.
When we visited one another "in real life", we discussed the situations going on in the chat room, and checked in once in awhile to say hello, and see how chat was going without us.
that crazy shooter was taking potshots at people; In fact, we were in the Spotsylvania Towne Centre shortly before he killed a lady there. This did not do much to endear Cliff to my new habit of flying around the country to meet people he'd never seen with names like "Bnana" and "Joyjoy" and "Sprkl and "Havok". Yes, we mostly addressed one another by our AOL screen names.
Back to Joanna: She always comes bearing gifts, souvenirs of Washington, DC this time; as well as matching Gold Wing T-shirts for me and Cliff. When we were at the winery for breakfast, she shopped in their gift shop for something to take back to her friends in Virginia. She's thoughtful like that.
So I just have to be thankful that a loner like me who doesn't even look at people's faces in the grocery store got to meet a whole realm of faithful friends from California to Texas, from Virginia to New England; friends I don't hesitate to hug when I see them in person.
It's probably the best thing about the Internet. Even better than Google.