“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…” ―C.S. Lewis
I am not a Facebook person. I am not comfortable sharing as much personal information about myself as some people do. I tire of the repetitive posts, “Repost this if you believe [insert whatever],” and the ubiquitous “At the gym” posts. Really?
How do I know this is not a piece of your pretend online life and you are actually eating a slice of pizza? But most of all–I do not care. About where you are, what you are eating, the score of your nephew’s soccer game, or who you are voting for. Most especially if you are doing a pitch on me.
I am a Twitter type.
I have built up a following who think just as I do, carefully chosen by me.
My Twitter feed is not full of religious opinions, baby photos (although I do enjoy a good cat .gif), and I get great news in real time by following the bigger media outlets like The New York Times. Similar to Unfriending on Facebook, I can just Unfollow someone if I am not in the mood to read their tweets.
Or if I think they are idiots.
Or if I just feel like it for no reason.
Unlike Facebook, most of these Twitter accounts will not know and will not care. I do not have to worry about hurting The New Yorker’s feelings if I Unfollow them. The anonymity of Twitter totally turns me on. I have tweeted some racy blogs on my Twitter that I would never dare put on Facebook for fear that a few of my young Facebook Friends might read them.
But I am not here to sell you on Twitter.
Most of my friends are on Facebook, anyway. I appear regularly on Facebook with a photo of my cat or something equally mundane to let people know I am alive and around. I also honor the Facebook birthday tradition. I have even made my own custom birthday memes. If I am going to make an appearance, I want it to be memorable with art made by me.
What I am here to tell you about is about something wonderful that happened to me on a rare Facebook appearance while I was posting one of my infamous birthday memes. I was scrolling down the Newsfeed to see if any of my friends I enjoyed reading had posted an update. And an amazing thing happened, which by the way, could never have happened on my impersonal Twitter.
I found Rudy.
Rudy was not lost, not in the literal sense, but he had written a post about how he was going to be alone on Thanksgiving. I saw that several people had invited him to their dinners and I chimed in that he was welcome to come to my house.
Now, mind you that, me, this non-Facebook person has just invited someone to her family Thanksgiving dinner who she has never met and has no idea where he lives. He might as well have been in Wichita for all I knew. It just felt right.
And to my surprise, he accepted my invitation.
Time for a bit of due diligence. My Facebook friends are loosely divided into groups based on how I know them. There are the high school, long-time, mental health support, writers and bloggers, California, Reno, very few former boyfriends and one former hub, and my Jodi Arias family and friends.
I had to quickly think, okay, I know Rudy, but from where? I looked at our mutual friends, which were many, and saw that he was from the mental health support group of friends. Well, cool.
This all happened about two days before Thanksgiving, and I quickly gave him directions to Phoenix from the Los Angeles area where he lived. He told me he was going to drive over for dinner and then drive back home afterward.
A six-hour turnaround? No way. So I invited him to stay in my spare room before he drove back. Rolling around in my head were my mother’s words, “You invited a complete stranger to Thanksgiving and then to spend the night in your house? WHAT were you thinking?” I knew what she was thinking. Axe murderer, Friday the 13th, and every slasher movie ever made. I couldn’t even imagine what my overly zealous Think They Are The Boss Of Me brothers would say. So I told none of them.
What my mother and some other people do not understand, is that I’ve met some of my closest friends online. Let me add from Facebook, not Twitter. I must admit this is a plus for Facebook. I cannot imagine inviting some Twitter anarchist to my home.
For example, I have met online two of my closest friends, Nicole and Nymarie.
I have known Nicole for five years and talk to her nearly every day. She knows my deepest, darkest secrets. She is my cheerleader, life coach, and a damn good editor for my writing. Of all the great luck, Nymarie lives near me, and I get to see her in person often. She is the only person I bring with me on my infamous Goodwill 50% off days. We even SHOP alike. I also met my beloved friend Marta online. Her mother bought me a plane ticket to New York so I could spend this past Christmas with her. We also talk nearly every day, and I love her like a sister. Included in this group is also the publisher of Feminine Collective, Julie Anderson, who I spent one of the most fun days I’ve had in downtown Los Angeles. (Although it was a challenge walking around with a staggeringly beautiful supermodel.) These amazing women are my tribe.
My mother and some of my friends would never get this.
I believe that I have a sixth sense about people. Or intuition, whatever you might call it. I knew Rudy was going to be just as he was when he arrived. Sweet, polite, and a little bit shy around my boisterous family. He blended in perfectly. At these types of gatherings, I will often leave for a few minutes with the excuse that I have to walk my dog. I really just need time away from the crowd. It is about being overwhelmed and a bit of social anxiety. Rudy joined me, and as it turns out, he craves the alone time as well. My family loved Rudy, and they are hoping he becomes a regular Thanksgiving guest.
The next morning before he left we went out for a traditional Arizona Mexican breakfast in the downtown area near my house. I was sorry he had to leave so soon as there were so many things I wanted to show him on his first foray into the desert.
I called Phoenix a cultural closet when I ran away to California so many years ago, but the truth is there are unique desert attractions and one of my favorites–a museum showing the incredible art of the many Native American tribes in Arizona. Next trip, we promised.
Rudy shared a funny little story wth me that morning. I do not even remember how the topic turned this way, but he told me he always made a point to tuck his shirt in, and that he always wore black. I told him I did, too, and we went to breakfast looking like a couple of mourners going to a funeral.
I was honestly sad when he took off back to California after lunch. For a couple of reasons. I rarely get to meet people in real life that I meet online. Rudy was funny, smart, and made me laugh. I knew I had made a friend for life. I see him online now and then, doing video testimonials for a mental health support group. He is perfect for this role. Compassionate, ingenuous, and inspiring as only true believers can be. It makes me happy that by just one little Facebook comment, I was fortunate enough to meet this caring man in person.
So, for all you naysayers and disbelievers that the online world is full of predators, opportunists, and some not-so-nice people–I say, take a chance if the opportunity feels right. Trust your gut, do proper due diligence, and sometimes you just might make a new friend. I know I am setting an extra place at Thanksgiving this year to welcome my new friend back to Arizona.
And Rudy, if you are reading this…my black shirt is always tucked into my black jeans.