When I told people I was going to Oxford, Mississippi for the weekend I got some weird looks.
"Why are you going to Mississippi?"
"To visit a friend."
"How do you have a friend in Mississippi?"
"I met her through blogging."
Then I sit back and wait for the look. If you've ever met a blogging friend you know the look I'm talking about: it's a mixture of confusion and genuine concern for your well-being, like you're going on a blind date and haven't thought this through at all. Then the questions start:
"Have you ever met her before?"
"Aren't you worried she's a catfish?" (<---this one is my favorite)
"You aren't staying at her house are you?"
"So you have Internet friends now? What's next? Collecting pogs and trading Beanie Babies?"
I mean, we all know I'm slightly crazy but that didn't stop me from packing up my little family (Gatsby included) and driving 5 1/2 hours to spend the weekend with Rachel in her little town of Oxford, Mississippi aka the cutest damn college town this side of....well...the Mississippi.
My time with Rachel was exactly what I needed and when we left Oxford on Sunday I felt full. (literally and figuratively....WE ATE SO MUCH FOOD!) In my blogging journey, there have been some really high highs and some pretty low lows but what keeps me coming back is the community. I don't see blogging as a "weird" place where people just share their feelings to random strangers everyday: to me, blogging is a big coffee shop and we're all just sipping our drink of choice and having a deep conversation about life. The beautiful thing about blogging is its ability to bring you friendships you never knew you needed, from places you probably never thought you'd visit.
Community, you see, is a big thing for me. I grew up in a smaller beach city where most of my life-long friendships were formed in the halls of my middle and high schools. I thrive off the feeling of fellowship with others, and live for those moments when I can really open up to someone and share my true, authentic self. In Atlanta, I've struggled to find that community and it's made creating a life here very difficult. I've longed for a friend to sit down and share a frothy latte and some authentic conversation with, but find myself lost among the millions residing in this city and shy when thrown into the forced awkwardness of group settings. The blogging community has given me the community I've been missing for the last five years. It's allowed me to open up my heart and connect at a time when I felt extremely disconnected. The blogging community has helped me feel like I belonged when I felt like a very small fish in a very big pond.
My time with Rachel reminded me how thankful I am for this community. As we sat on her back porch, watched our pups play and sipped our coffee I realized how important her friendship is to me, and how it's so much bigger than the Internet (although I was called "Rachel's Internet Friend" all weekend and it was hilarious). The friendships we build here are deep and meaningful. They are built on the premise of "me too" and created in moments of vulnerability and the desire for connection. They are friendships that translate into "real life" and give a sense of belonging in times of loneliness. To see that friendship come to life and to watch it take shape as husbands and boyfriends drink beers in the kitchen reminds me that this community is unlike any other, that it's valuable and that it cultivates genuine connection.
And you guys? The Walkers have that hospitality game on LOCK. Kyle and I felt like royalty staying at their beautiful home. And Gatsby? Has fallen in love with a sassy girl named Nena.
Here's a video of our weekend! Kyle, as usual, knocked it out of the park. Enjoy!!