Tuesday, July 19, 2022

"And I Said, 'What About, Lunch at Julia's?'"

About a year ago, I received an invitation - via Facebook Messenger - from a friend. This invitation had gone out to quite a few women, one I knew in person, two I knew "about" through mutual friends, and the rest complete strangers, and welcomed each of us to join a group message.

All of the women were included for one reason: we had similar mindsets when it came to pandemic precautions. My friend brought us together via social media so we would have a safe place to share concerns, ask for advice, discuss issues, etc. without worrying that we would be attacked for being more cautious and careful than most. 

What an incredible gift this group turned out to be. Throughout the last year, we've become surprisingly close. We've learned the basics about one another, of course, like what everyone does for a living, who everyone is married to, and the names and grades and schools of everyone's children. But we've also learned next level information, like what conditions our kids deal with, what we find challenging and/or rewarding about our jobs, and our political leanings/affiliations. We've talked and supported each other through parenting challenges, medical issues, legal questions, home/car crises, travel frustrations, pet ailments, job changes, moving, and quite a few bouts of COVID.

All of us knew one or two other women in the group, but for the most part, we were in-person strangers. So we set out to meet each other in person if/when we recognized one another from our Facebook profile pictures. I met one friend at a soccer practice, one friend at a PTO meeting, and one friend in the parking lot of the dance studio. Others met at choir concerts or on field trips or at urgent care. We started to recognize each other's children out and about in the world, at football games and restaurants. We learned that many of our kids were already friends in real life. 

Eventually we decided that we needed to actually coordinate an in-person gathering of our group. Our first attempt, over winter break, was thwarted by COVID, but this spring, right before the end of the school year, we finally made it happen. Only six of us - out of 15 - could make it, but we had a great time getting to know each other even better and making plans for another, larger gathering. 

Frustration and the need for a like-minded community brought us together. Friendship has kept us together.  

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