It is 2:33am.
I just had a Skype chat with with my friend @heathersolos as she started her writing day on the east coast and I began to close my writing night on the pacific coast.
And it makes me grateful.
I have a wealth of incredible friends — real friends whom I treasure, who make me laugh until I am wiping tears off my cheeks in Starbucks, with strangers at the table next to me wondering about the odd girl talking to her laptop.
They are friends whom I turn to on good days and on cruel days.
We live our lives so close we share a bed in a crammed hotel room and so far that we don’t see each other for months.
We can’t stop by for coffee, or meet each other for a play date at the park. When one of us is sick, we can’t run to the store and pick up Tylenol and ginger-ale.
And while I wish my neighborhood were jammed with each one of my incredible “virtual” friends, I am just grateful that they are in my world.
As bloggers, we have this common thread of intimacy — an instinct to connect. I think it is why I feel so close to so many of my online friends. We write. We listen. We talk. We understand.
But, are those “virtual” friends as valuable, as critical to our happiness and fulfillment, as “in real life” friends? Should we be sacrificing so much of the time that we could be investing in local friends and family on friends who live thousands of miles away?
Is that healthy? Am I investing too much in my virtual world?
I think you know my answer — I live it every day. While I protect my time with my family and try to carve out nights with my husband and our couple friends, I will not give up my online friends.
Whether the friendships started with single tweet or with an introduction in a crowded party at BlogHer, my virtual friends are anything but virtual. They are as real and as valuable to me as if we went to grade school together.
Some are just beginning and some are already deep with age. But to me they are all worth every moment invested.
What about you?
Do you spend more time cultivating your online friendships or your offline friendships? Do you feel you should be spending more time offline? Have you found a way to bring both worlds together with local blogging friends?