Friday, February 13, 2015

Social Media...The Unbelievable Upside!

Top from left: Tami, Amy, Catherine, Lauren, Maureen,
Bottom from left: Patti, Betty and Me (Jo Ann)
In the grand scheme of social gatherings it may have not seemed that out of the ordinary. A group of friends meeting in the city to share some tea on a cold winter day.

 A crackling fire glimmering off the rich mahogany woodwork in a fine, old New York hotel. Outside, a blur of yellow cabs streaming down the street as the brightly shinning sun failed to disguise the
cold winds.

As the group individually arrived from Connecticut, New Jersey and the city itself, there were warm lingering hugs, smiles, and chatter. Simultaneous chatter. Everyone talking at once. The hotel staff in the small Victorian-style lobby stood smiling at the noisy group whose excitement must have seemed evident that it had been a long time between visits. Truth is, most of us had never met.
Maureen & Lauren, much laughter at this table!

Yes, we knew that Tami and Betty (my sister) had lost the lives they knew to Hurricane Sandy and the wicked winds of corporate America. And then had to reinvent themselves. Both in real estate. We knew that warm, funny Maureen is living here temporarily in a small corporate apartment with her husband while a new condo is being built in Canada, and terribly missing her grandson who is still there. We knew that Lauren is a fun loving spirit and jewelry designer who scours the shores of the Atlantic Ocean for sea glass. (We also now know that if the two of us hung out more often we could get into a lot of trouble together. Kindred spirits. Who just met!)

Catherine, Tami, Amy. The happiness was obvious.
We knew that beautiful Amy is painstakingly dealing with an hysterical society (I meant historical  society) while renovating a lovely older stone home outside of Manhattan. We knew that Patti lives a grain-free life and has just overseen the complete design and renovation of her lovely home.

We knew that innovative, hardworking interior designer, Catherine has also had to readjust her career sails while raising a beautiful young daughter. We knew the first names of all of our children and grandchildren, along with whose going to be a grandmother (two of us) or who has a son getting married (me). We knew this all before we got to the introduce ourselves.

Much needed fire in the lobby!
We knew, we knew, we knew, we just simply had never met...until this week. We are friends. Good friends. Ladies of a somewhat similar age who have used Twitter and Facebook as our gathering hangouts. Each morning, we get up (usually early), make our coffee, pickup our laptops and iPad's and start talking. Topics vary. Weather, day's activities, plans for the evening, recipes, our kids, etc.

On Twitter, we are limited to 113 characters so often we jump over to Facebook where we can talk more at length. But Twitter is always the daily starting point. It's our virtual corner cafe. It's also the place were we check in during the day just to catch up. It's the place where if we notice someone is absent for more than a day, we start asking questions. "Have you heard from her?", "Is she travelling?", "Hope everything is okay." It's who we are. Friends.

So many of us have gone through similar life changes, such as a divorce or job loss, that tough issues are the commonality that often bonds us. That is where the private aspects of social media come into play. The ability to DM (direct message) on either site means that you can have a private conversation with someone without others seeing. It is here where you can spill your heart out, vent your anger, or ask advice. Sometimes you're the mouth, sometimes you're the shoulder.

Tea is about to be served.
Gorgeous lobby centerpiece 
When I was first going through my divorce and started living on my own for the first time ever, I would often spend late nights talking to Jessica (a friend who couldn't make our lunch...this time) and had recently gone through the same thing. Or with Tami, who was rebuilding her life with her young son after losing everything she had to mega storm Sandy. The conversations will always remain private but I'm still amazed at the things that one says to someone they've never actually met! And maybe, just maybe it is because you can't see their face and never feel that judgement is being made. I don't know.

I can't even remember how this group started, but I do know how much I would miss them if they weren't there every morning. All of them, even our morning chatters that couldn't make the trip this time. Carol, and her daughter Tara who are in the mountains of New Hampshire, Shelley, our resident weather expert, who scoured the web till she found me the perfect clutch for my son's wedding. And Asta, who chimes in from Lithuania each morning (although it's afternoon for her). A women so kind that this Christmas she sent me a beautiful piano CD that her friend had recorded. I often play it while writing.

There is sure to be another lunch soon, another gathering, another venture. Many of us are hoping to meet up at Brimfield in May. (If you don't know what Brimfield is, I suggest you Goggle it because there is no way to explain it here.) That's our goal anyway. So this week, I got to see some of the faces and hear some of the voices of special ladies that I've consider friends for a long time. We had just never met. But in a lovely old New York hotel, that issue was solved over a cup of tea. They way it should be.

Photos supplied by Catherine Avery and Jo Ann Phelps


  1. Your writing, as always, paints the scene perfectly, beautifully... authentically. Fabulous write up about a wonderful day spent with good friends. Thank you. xoxo

  2. Thank you Patti! So glad we got to meet face to face after all this time! Here is to next time!

  3. Wow!! Wow!!! Wow!! It is so great to see all the familiar faces both from online and offline lives. I LOVE IT!!!

    I think we should meet up some day. Perhaps in a treehouse (?) I'm game if you are :)))))

    Big love to all the lovely ladies !!

  4. Treehouse would be perfect place for meet up! Thanks for reading. Your name came up at lunch and I realized that you knew many of these lovely ladies! Let us know when your coming to NY, we will arrange a meet up!

  5. What a lovely post and meet up! I really think social media is a great way of meeting some fabulous folks you may not normally be in touch with. I just met with Tami and it was so nice to talk with her in person. Everyone looks like they had a fabulous time, and how wonderful that social media brings so many people together! Bravo!

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