This weekend I met one of my best blogging friends in real life, and it was amazing. Heather, Aaron, and Heather’s brother and his girlfriend came to Chicago (and did it up!), and the true highlight of my weekend was spending the day with them on Saturday, and rarely having a pause in the conversation during the entirety of it.
From brunch at Yolk (after I went for a wet, snowing/sleety run), to coffee, to Revolution Brewery, to watching Alex watch the UVA basketball game, to Cantina Laredo, to watching the Steelers game at American Junkie, to getting froyo to bring back to AJ while the boys continued to be enthralled…. I feel like (and wish that) I spent way longer than just a day with them.
We honestly didn’t take as many pictures as I would have thought, considering, well, you know, blogger status and all that, but it just seemed to be one of the those days when it wasn’t necessary! So instead of regaling you with every detail of what we did beyond that timeline, I just wanted to express to all what this weekend once again impressed upon me. Happy Monday!
I have mentioned this on several occasions, most notably illustrating this phenomenon in my recap of 2014, but one of the greatest gifts that becoming a blogger, or joining the blogging community, has given to me is the gift of friendship.
When I moved to Chicago, and even after several months of living here, I truly did not know many people. I know Alex, I met some residents, but we all know the type of schedules that they enjoy (though it must be said that it was far less intensive at the very beginning for Alex, and there were many social events to help people bond). When I got my job at the restaurant, that pretty much threw any hope of making social plans out the window–I worked nights. Furthermore, it seemed that no matter how hard I tried to integrate myself into the architectural and preservation communities here, I made very little headway in finding peers with similar interests. I felt so incredibly alone–I missed my girlfriends, I missed being able to have conversations with people (remember, I started dinner shifts at the restaurant before people got off of work!). And because I didn’t see Alex much, I tended to reserve nights not at the restaurant for him, further isolating myself.
Blogging changed all of that for me. When I spoke about how you can be in the same place but have literally run through an entire experience (like a life treadmill), I think that my life is a perfect example of that: Here we are, a year later, and no one has moved to the city or left the city, I have a job and Alex has a job (both full time), we still have times when we struggle to see each other, I still workout and I still focus mostly on running, I still read and write a blog, and yup, as of this weekend, it is snowing and we are expecting drastic temperature drops.
But oh, what a difference a year can make.
And these are just the people that I have met through the blog. One of the reasons that I have fallen in love with this community is that, no matter where I am, no matter what I am going through, I am surrounded by some of the most incredible people that I could ever hope to meet. In Real Life, or just on the Internets.
Part of the reason that my “amateur” blogging status suits me just fine is that my focus with my blog is not the next greatest recipe, or the next amazing workout, or all the free things! This is about being surrounded by people who you don’t have to explain yourself to, even though you’ve never met. Who you meet and immediately give the biggest hug ever, and an even bigger hug when you have to leave. Who cheer you on, actually want to hear about your problems, and to help.
Yes, I have joined various networks. Yes, I do join link up parties. And thank goodness I have. Or else I never would have met half of these people that I wake up to every morning, and talk to throughout the day. Who I give and receive advice from, new ideas from, and belly-hurting laughs from.
There is so much about blogging that truly is a game: all about the numbers, the SEO, the return on investment. And like I said on my post on Friday about blogging with integrity, that is fantastic that some people can play that game so well, and kudos to them. But if the only product of my blog are the experiences I have already had (not counting the ones I’ve yet to have and the people that I’ve yet to meet)….
Then I will always be thankful for it and will count this as one of the most successful undertakings of my life. Numbers, immortality, and free stuff be damned. You can have it all back, but I will forever remember what it is like to feel this surrounded by support and genuine souls. Thank you all for being a part of making this journey such an incredible experience for me. For making the comments as important as the posts sometimes, and the segue to the most meaningful relationships.
I hope you have the most fantastic day, the most fantastic year, the most fantastic life. I hope that I one day get to meet you, to share stories over brunch, or coffee, or a run. To climb into bulk candy bins or fight against the headwinds or feel the burn. But even if we don’t, please know that you still have impacted my life in such a positive way that I think of you as a friend IRL (in real life).