"Here's a weird story to start things off. Hal Johnson has a blog and makes comments here regularly. He's a guy I only know online, so our friendship is 100% virtual, in a sense. Yet I've been able to meet some of my internet friends in real life and it's always a seamless transition, so at the same time I realize that my friendship with Hal is 100% real, even if we've never shaken hands or eaten a meal together."
A few years ago, I might have disagreed with Michael on that friendship point. I tended to take the position that to really know someone, personal contact was vital. Writing, talking on the phone, and smoke signals just didn't cut it.
I've come around to Michael's way of thinking on friendship, and part of the reason I've come around is because of the only two bloggers on my list that I know in "real life."
Bob is a fellow helicopter pilot. For thirteen years, he worked for my current employer, PHI Inc. (Formerly Petroleum Helicopters, Inc.) I knew him only well enough to say "hello" for a good while, but I ended up having a long conversation with him during a dinner gathering of pilots and wives one evening. A few years would pass before I discovered his blog, his talent as a writer, and the richness of his life experiences.
Uncle E has a daughter who attends school with my son. I first got to know him at a campout, when we discovered a mutual fondness for Mexican beer. We've been planning to have a "dude happy hour," but life tends to get in the way of such plans, especially for two guys who actually enjoy being with their families.
And yeah, I suppose I know those guys in a way that I don't know my strictly online friends. Yet, I've also grown to know them in a fuller, different way than if I'd never discovered their writings.
So, I've come to think of my "100% virtual" friends as quite real. Different folks have different ideas as to what constitutes friendship, so they may not feel the same. That's okay.
Alg has written in the past that he didn't think he'd ever become a father, for several reasons. I inferred that those reasons had mostly to do with the state of the world. Still, when he announced on PearlSoup a few months back that Sarah was expecting, I wasn't exactly shocked. As John Lennon wrote, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." I did manage to avoid writing him to say "I told you so," if for no other reason than I'd never written that "I told you so" in the first place. I was pleased to read the news, because I think Alg has a lot to offer as a dad.
Alg wrote a post back in January titled, "What Do You Want to Be Called by Your Son?" I was quick with my opinion, and quick to post it as a comment: "Oh for heaven's sake, A. You're Italian, after all. Isn't it some sort of cosmic rule that you must be 'Papa'?"
Little Gabriel was born last night, shortly before midnight. I've never met Algernon in person. I've never shared a beer, a cup of coffee, or dinner with him. Yet, when I saw the photo of little Gabriel on Papa A's blog, tears came to my eyes. I guess that's because, yeah, I think of Algernon as a friend.
And because he's a friend, it makes me happy that little Gabriel is in the world.
Congratulations to Sarah and Papa A. You're gonna be exhausted for a while, but it's the magic that you'll remember.