I ran into an old friend recently.
It was one of those funny situations where you see someone out of context: a teacher at the grocery store; your boss in a Target clearance aisle. I hadn’t seen M., the girlfriend of a friend I met through my sister, since last New Year’s. We were in Hallmark.
The last time we saw each other, in those newborn hours of 2015, I was still adjusting to the idea of being pregnant. It seemed a strange concept . . . almost an embarrassing one. Despite being 29 years old, married and independent and financially sound, the admission that I was expecting was always accompanied by my own nervous laughter.
In fact, I’d been whispering it. A friend pointed that out. “I’m pregnant!” I’d hiss, raising my eyebrows, even if everyone in the room already knew the state of my womb.
I told M. at the New Year’s party, her eyes lighting up. She confided that she was anticipating a marriage proposal in coming months. And though we hadn’t seen each other in almost a year, M. is so easy to talk to that we can pick up where we left off.
“So,” she said in the card store, hands cross delicately on a counter, “you had your baby?”
I blinked at her. A beat of silence passed, then two. Paper wishes of “Happy birthday!” and “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Baptism!” hemmed us into a corner. My own stack of cards drooped in my hands.
“Oh wow, yes,” I said. “Are we … not Facebook friends?”
For two 30-year-olds in 2015, this was . . . bizarre. Almost unimaginable. But I wracked my brain to think of any posts I’d seen from M. in recent months — photos of a tropical vacation, news of a job offer — only to draw a blank.
“Oh, I’m not on Facebook,” she said. “Do you have a boy or a girl?”
To see a friend — in person, in the flesh — and tell her the news of my son was . . . well, it was invigorating. Just as she’d shared in my happiness with my in-person pregnancy announcement, the news of Oliver’s birth brought on the same excitement.
M. and I don’t trade texts or tweets; we don’t “like” each other’s lunches or comment on cat videos. Just as I knew nothing of her engagement (her boyfriend had indeed popped the question), she knew nothing of my baby. M. hadn’t seen our mutual friends in months, either.
How rare it is to tell — really tell — my own stories now. I’m so used to divulging my experiences on Facebook, Twitter, through my column and this blog — to prepare vignettes of my life for public consumption; to frame my anecdotes in an Instagram square. Nothing feels private — not unless you work hard to keep it that way. Everything is in a feed.
Telling M. about Oliver and watch her eyes crinkle? That brought me joy. And when I saw her ring (on her actual hand), it was all I could do not to jump up and down with her.
This is not to say I’m going ghost online. I love keeping up with friends and family through social media . . . and would be pretty bored without it. But that chat with M. definitely got me thinking about the nature of connection — and how I might want to be more present in others’ lives.
Thumbs-up emoji. Hands clapping emoji. Pink heart.
11 thoughts on “No emojis necessary”
Lovely, thoughtful post… Perfect for the holiday season, when reaching out and actually seeing (touching, hugging) our friends and family is a must!
This hits so close to home for me. I have a few friends who are Facebook hold outs, and they remind me how much I love catching up in person. In fact, a lot of things have reminded me lately of how much I need to cultivate in-person friendships to keep me sane. As much as I love my online buddies, I need more girls’ nights out. 🙂
How fun! We drove down on Monday to South Carolina to visit my family for Thanksgiving, and close to town I ran into the mother of a schoolmate in the bathroom of a gas station. We did the same thing you’re describing here, and it was so much fun. There’s truly nothing like face to face communication.
Nothing beats a face to face conversation with a friend. It’s the only way to get a real hug.
a very very nice article…simply written n totally valid…Connecting people -Connecting the world has a Far Bigger Meaning Than Doing it Online…Its about the smiles shared…Hugs exchanged…Warmth Generated…And Wishing Well Actually Meant…Real nice one…
This is such a fabulous post, Meg. This exact topic has been on my mind for quite some time and you brought to light everything I was thinking so perfectly. True connection seems to be fading in this tech-y world and I think sometimes it’s great to have a reminder like this to bring us back into reality. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂
I so agree. Sometimes it’s very tempting to turn off all the social media and really connect with people.
We’re not old by many means, Meg, but it sure does make me feel old when I end up saying “Those were the days.” And, oh, how I miss them!
What a lovely hearkening back to the days before social media.
I really love this. Real people sharing real emotions in real life with crinkly eyes. Beautiful!
Oh, this too really resonated with me — we just today caught up with two other moms who had babies when we had. We’d met them at a lesbian trying-to-conceive group, and we all learned we were pregnant at the 2nd meeting, and all kind of stopped getting together. But we made a playdate today, and it was marvelous recapping the year plus since we’d stopped seeing each other: our pregnancies, our deliveries, our growing babies. There’s something for that wonderful feedback loop of shared joy and empathy (and I say this as someone who is addicted to social media…).
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