My life has been peppered with instances where I’ve felt out of place, even in the midst of my own family. It can be difficult, sharing a home with people that don’t completely understand me, that find the things I feel passionate about laughable or weird. Confiding in them is rare because I hate being mocked or used as a humorous anecdote for their friends – “Look at my daughter, the sensitive blogger, writing in her secret notebook!” It takes something out of me, each time I hedge around the truth to save being heckled or keep a piece of writing I’m proud of hidden because it would make me too vulnerable.
But with each passing year, seven to be precise, I’ve met more and more people that “get” me and I’ve formed a different sort of family. It’s the beauty, and the curse, of the Internet. It says, “Look, here are all these people that you can connect with on every level you’ve been missing! But, oh...they live 4,000 miles away, across an ocean.
You laugh, you write, you talk, you care, but you can’t hug or sit down at a table and look each other in the face. These are real people, flesh and blood and bone, but in most cases they’ll only ever be a friendly voice on the other end of a phone line or a “how are you” email.
In most cases, but no longer in mine. Because two weeks ago I boarded a plane to England and set out to meet, and stay with, four people I already knew but hadn’t set eyes on. Two weeks ago I traveled alone, to a country I’d never been to before, and had the sort of adventure most people will never get to experience.