Shelly comments that I'm in her neck of the woods. I reply while the Zumba video is telling the girls what move is next in Spanish. I swear those people on the screen are professional dancers, and I was never that coordinated. I wonder if I would survive the humiliation of trying and failing. Right or wrong, as writers tend to do, I opt for a computer screen and a keyboard over Zumba's public embarrassment.
The conversation with Shelly continues like ping pong. I check GPS and we make a plan to meet halfway. I got caught up in the moment and now I have plans to leave the women I've come to fellowship with, to meet a blog friend I've interacted with very little, actually. Another decision I think might be a wrong one.
I can't sleep because I keep asking myself, "What are you doing?" The pastor's wife, the leader, is abandoning the crew. I'm very good at second-guessing and self-criticism. A sleepless night ensues.
At breakfast, I feel trapped with no way out when there's talk of everyone's afternoon plans. Some are headed to the beach. Some are mapping out a route through the Tanger Outlet. They all have plans—with each other. I quietly bring forkfuls of scrambled eggs to my mouth, head down, hoping not to have to confess that my plans don't include them. The eggs failed me.
It turns out, 28 supportive, amazing girls were excited for me. No one else at our church blogs, and they may read mine, but they aren't blog readers or commenters, not really. How could they possibly understand this? But they do for my sake, and it's remarkable.
My worries shifted to Shelly and our meeting. What if we have nothing to talk about? What if she wonders why I dragged my husband along? I had already dragged him to the retreat, the only man to carry the equipment and set up and tear down. I couldn't abandon him now. My roots are showing, I look terrible. This could go so wrong....
But she's driven 40 minutes out of her way to meet a virtual
We lean on opposite sides of the table, into a shared love for the Lord, and for words, and common blog friends. The whole cyber world was right there between us in the flesh. The Kingdom of God, too. We compared foreign missions stories and pastor's wife camaraderie, article writing, and nachos.
All the second-guessing and insecurity had failed me after all. But I was right about something: it was remarkable—all of it. My sweet church girls who love me so, my husband who's a good sport, and Shelly, the other crazy blogger who changed her plans last minute and went out of her way to meet someone she's never met, all because real community happens on the Internet but is even better in real life.