Invisible Friends

 

Sheer panic set in after Felix asked and I agreed to write for a week.  What on earth could I possibly say that would hold the attention of such interesting strangers?  Blogging—an act I’ve never committed–suddenly seemed very daunting.  I played with excuses to back out, and the best I could come up with: “Sorry, the cat peed on my keyboard and I’ll have to withdraw.  Uhhh… I’m using a neighbor’s computer to let you know.”

The irrational fear didn’t last long.  Reneging wasn’t an option because I would have been letting a friend down, who would be letting his friends down if he couldn’t find a willing successor in a hurry.   I thought back to how I first connected with people on the internet.  So, fears and inhibitions shoved to the back of the closet, here we go…

My name is Gayle and I’m an artist (a profession that occasionally puts money in my pocket), wife of nearly 43 years, mother of two, grandmother of three, sole caretaker for my 91-year old father, and personal maid to a large orange cat we call Spot (long story).  I’m an only child, which undoubtedly is what addled my brain and twisted me into the person I’ve become.

With my being an only, one might think I had imaginary friends to keep me company as a child.  I did not, I was a latent bloomer.  My invisible friends popped into being after the advent of my first internet connection.  They didn’t present themselves one at a time either, they came in a pack of four, all thanks to a website experiment.  Actually it was thanks to my husband, Dale (yes, we’ve heard the jokes), who heard about the experiment on National Public Radio and thought I might enjoy participating.

It was not a planned part of the experiment, but four men of varying ages and professions mentally connected with this particular (peculiar?) woman and stuck around.  The gods must have been amusing themselves — I now had five men to confuse, frustrate and otherwise mentally abuse.  How lucky can a girl get?!

There was/is Felix the Mysterious (took forever to drag personal stuff out of him); Frank the Poet; Jim the Philosopher; and Mac the Attorney Instigator (R.I.P, Mac, we still love and speak of you).  They were only the beginning, as we’ve since added Clarissa the Free Spirit, Marrianna the Artist, and Pauline the Busy Bee to the original family group.  It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, we’ve had our misunderstandings and disagreements over the years, but we’ve continued to care about each other enough to virtually kiss and make up, just as good friends and family members do.

Since that wonderful group’s inception I’ve cyber-met many other inspiring people from around the world, who have also become close enough to call extended family.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few of them face-to-face and will enjoy meeting more in just a few days.

Computers can be a royal pain when they act up, and mine go quirky often enough (generally user error), but they’ve taught me something important: there is little difference between us but made-up borders and large bodies of water.  People are more alike than they ever imagined, regardless of where they come from and no matter that they might always remain invisible.

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