It all started when she began commenting on my blog. On several different entries. She wrote thoughtful, insightful responses to my content and threw in some casual compliments about my writing as well. Let's be honest, nothing forges a friendship like a welcome dose of flattery. She signed her name as simply "J." Like a good "blog friend" should, I began reading her blog as well. It made me laugh. It was easy going and light. I related with it. Commenting led to tweeting. Tweeting led to emails. Until finally, I received this email from her:
"BTW I really loved your post from this morning and am happy to see how well things are going for you and Mr U. He sounds pretty darn fantastic. "
And in return I wrote the following:
"Thanks. Don't worry, the greatness of it all isn't lost on me. I pretty much go around all day every day thinking "lucky me, lucky me. I am sooooooooo lucky. By the way, if you ever wanna hang, I'd be down. I haven't actually met anyone from the twitter/blog world yet as my intention has always been to remain anonymous. On the other hand us DC dating bloggers are really in quite a specific niche and I'm sure we'd have a lot to talk about. I get the sense from your blog that you are nice person AND normal, which I can't say for everyone. Let me know. If not, I'll keep reading anyways. no worries."
I felt a bit like Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail when I typed those words out into the blogosphere. "Do you think maybe we should meet?" Can you hear him saying it? Because I can. I wondered if she was Meg Ryan horrified and intrigued all at the same time considering this proposition on the other end of the message, seated at her own computer. "Meet? Do you think we should meet? Meet?"
For those of you who are experts by now at online dating, or for all of us who are simply aware that online dating is almost as commonplace and normal in the world of social adult interaction as say singles events or meeting at weddings or at the bar scene, meeting a total stranger off the internet after a few brief written interactions might not seem that bizarre or scary or unnecessary. But I am not one of those people. Though I have created dating profiles on two different online sites, I only ever conversed with a half a dozen people or so. In several months time. Despite being pummeled with messages in my inbox on a daily basis. But somehow I never came close to meeting a single person.
I don't have a great reason. I just never wanted to BADLY enough. I also honestly believed that you would have to sift through a TON OF BAD dates to get to any viable good dates let alone strongly desirable partners and I just didn't have the time or energy or optimism (at the time) to go the distance - to put in the work. And it was just that - it seemed like A LOT of work. Also, the idea of meeting a stranger who I'd never seen in person or talk to in person and being stuck with them for a span of an hour or two just seemed foreign and, well, icky.
So no one was more shocked than I was, when I asked a platonic blog friend to go on what I guess you could refer to as "A Blind Blog Girl Date." (I must credit "J" for this description for it is she who first came up with it). Why did I want to "meet"? I still don't have a good answer.
One thing I can say, is that blogging, OUT OF NOWHERE, became a huge part of my life. Even a daily part of my life. I read so many other people's written words and thoughts and opinions and emotions every day. On the bus. At work. In bed before I fall asleep. While watching tv on the couch. A lot. Sometimes I wonder if this is a good use of my time but then I read something in Gretchin Rubin's "The Happiness Project" book where she talks about how we all need to "have fun" in our lives, whatever "fun" means for you. Reading and writing blogs is "fun" for me. It is entertaining, relaxing and cathartic. So, how can that be bad? I feel a need to write. I must write. A need to reflect on my self and the world around me. I must reflect. If I don't, I feel the inner monologue become overrun and exhausted and overhauled. The words must be sorted out. The ideas must be considered. It is a blessing and a curse.
And once I felt I just had to write and my form of writing meant blogging, I found what an extraordinary and diverse community the blog world was. How many wonderful women there were out there just like me, struggling as a single to JUST FIND A NORMAL GUY. Just. like. me. Dating and dating and dating - just like me! And then when I met Mr. U, I found women who were in new relationships or old relationships or heard from the singles regarding their recent relationships that they'd faced the same worries, fights, fatigue, doubts, euphoria and thrills of a new special someone - just. like. me. This dialogue and this community and this understanding was addictive and warm and comforting and fun and just nice. To understand and be understood. To listen and to be heard. In some ways, I seemed to have more in common with my "blog friends" and "twitter friends" than I did with the people I interacted with every day IN REAL LIFE. Because we shared a passion for writing and dissecting relationships and for bettering ourselves through self-reflection, creativity and more often than not - humor.
So I guess it is no surprise when I found a blog of another single girl who sounded just. like. me - that I wanted to talk to her. About boys. And blogging. And living in DC. I think somehow I felt she would understand. Understand what or how much I dont know - but just understand. Something. Some of it. Or just me.
Now, this may sound like a lot of pressure to put on a stranger from the blogosphere unknown beyond. But its not. Isn't that why we all make friends? For companionship? And for understanding? In a way I was sort of online "dating," but not for a romantic partner, and instead for a platonic friend. I just didn't know that this was what I was doing.
There were other friendly, thoughtful and interesting bloggers who I almost met first. Who organized happy hours and speed dating and get togethers. And I am sorry I was busy working. And I'm sorry I was sick or whatever lame ass excuse I had for never making it. For that, I am truly sorry. But I didn't. And we didn't. And what else can you do? I certainly hope and imagine an opportunity will arise and I'll get a second chance with those seemingly lovely ladies. But when I asked "J" to meet up with me, I was giving it another go - to let my blog life and my real life collide - for the first real time.
Which is another thing to consider - I was fascinated when I found out that the blogging community was largely not anonymous or pseudo-anonymous or partially anonymous. People used their real names. Pictures. And got together for drinks. I didn't understand this. The beauty of my blog is that I can curse and talk about sex and say what I REALLY think about that close friend that is getting on my nerves or my mother or my boyfriend, without anyone judging me, getting hurt, holding it against me or thinking I'm a complete bitch or lunatic. Or without getting fired for embarrassing my company. Well maybe you think I'm a bitch or a lunatic anyway, but I don't know you, so I don't care. Which isn't true really - I do want to be liked - by everyone, all the time - including strangers - but I think it hurts less overall.
But by meeting someone in person - showing them my real face - and using my real name - I was leaving myself vulnerable to being exposed to the real world as who I really am - which is what I say and do - in the blog world. All my hopes, fears, insecurities, angers. Who I really am. Maybe that's why we blog. And do it anonymously. To be who we really are without rejection. Because in the real world there are just too many reasons not to show our true colors.
At any rate, no matter why I did it or what I'm looking to get out of it, I asked a fellow female "blog friend" to meet in person. To hang out. To talk about blogging. To maybe make a new friend to spend time with in real life or not. But to have an experience I've never had. How many of you have done something lately you've never done? For the novelty? For the questions it poses? Just to do it.
So for some reason I asked J to meet. A la platonic You've Got Mail. And I was delighted that she gave the following response:
"I would absolutely love to hang out sometime! It will be like a blind blog date. I've had the same sort of struggle myself- no intention of ever blogging publicly, but also wanting to become further integrated into the blogging world (or...whatever it is, exactly). In fact, only one friend knows about the blog- I feel like I'm living a secret life! So, in summary, yes, it would be very fantastic to meet someone whose blog I so enjoy reading and have much in common with...I am available other days to meet up for a drink or some other such thing."
To which I replied: "Let's coordinate soon. Of course we'll have to blog about our blog blind date. Of course!"
And then she concluded: "Very excited for our blog blind date and to hear all the details about Mr. U in person. Chat soon!"
And today, coincidentally, ONE MONTH exactly after I wrote that initial email to J to "ask her out" (hah) I'm very excited as well for our blind blog date which will take place later today. Just drinks or food or whatever, and hopefully good, friendly conversation at a location of our choosing.
Unlike a real date, I am not nervous. I forgot to wear my nice shoes but so what. I'm having a bad hair day, but so what. I'm also having a "fat day" but so what. I didn't spend extra time getting ready. It doesn't matter where we're going. If she's late I won't care. If she stands me up, I'd be disappointed but I wouldn't take it as a negative reflection on my person. I don't care what kind of clothes she wears or what job she has or what she's studying in school or what she looks like. If we don't hit it off and we go our separate way shortly after meeting, there'll be no hard feelings. I anticipate no games and no worry over the check. It doesn't matter if we pick the right location or activity or if the food is bad or the drinks take too long to come. There's no pressure. There's no judgment.
I guess like all dates, even a platonic blind blog girl date could go badly. We might not have much to say, or much in common (in real life) after all. But it'll be an experience nonetheless. A satisfaction of curiosity. A chance for friendship. And as long as she's not a completely insane person or psycho killer or intent on "outing" me in real life and to the blog community, breaking my anonymity for some sick joke or experiment (which I suppose are genuine possibilities, though not likely), I can't imagine it going badly or any negative consequences.
Wish us a pleasant time if you will. Nothing more, nothing less. After all, isn't that what meeting new people is all about? If only all "dating" could be so easy...