It seems that since I discovered the Internet a decade or so ago, I also started gaining friends I have never met. It started with a young man who was generous with his time and responded to a questionnaire I was conducting. Unlike the numerous others I had contacted before him, he did not ask me my marital status (at least not until after the questionnaire was complete), nor did he ask me to marry him so he could come to the US. He did tell me about life for our contemporaries in Iran at the time. He shared stories of parties, work, happiness and tragedies. I enjoyed our conversations quite a bit. I'm proud to say that while I still haven't met him, we have maintained our friendship over the years.
Then for a few years, my online friends seemed to fade far in the background. I had a new marriage and life to get in order. Recently though, I have been finding new friends again and I must say they bring a smile every time I hear from them. Of course, even I think there is something strange about exchanging emails and comments with people you've never met. Perhaps if we met, you would dismiss me quickly or I would judge you unfairly. But distance can make the heart grow fond.
Sitting at my keyboard, I can exchange emails with my Stranger in Texas, wondering how he's doing and hoping our exchanges bring a smile. He can forgive my rambling, and possibly wonder how we got to this point (and he'll conclude it's because of my wit and distant charm).
I can chat with the Night Owl in Atlanta and smile in recognition, plotting and planning future sleep deprived visits. She can laugh at my madness and wonder how on Earth our paths crossed. But that how won't matter as much as where our paths will lead us.
And I can find you somehow, some way. My face will light up when I hear from you. I'll think of you when I'm planning a dinner, reading something you'd appreciate or hear something outrageous. I'll wonder how you're doing if I don't hear from you. I realize this friendship may seem imaginary to some, but it is real to me. It is real in its possibilities and potential. After all, I have met a couple of these distant, imaginary friends before. I kept one as a lifelong friend, and married another. See what a little imagination can do.