Virtual and Real

On a cold winter night in late 2003, I was sitting in my English basement apartment in DC and dreaming of baseball. Warm, summer night baseball with beer and hot dogs. I decided to look around on line for the latest in offseason action and stumbled across various Red Sox chat forums. Hot stove season for a Red Sox fan in Washington DC was born.

Virtual friendships grew and I was invited to join a group for a Spring Training weekend in Florida. I passed, deciding that as innocuous as they all seemed online, you just never knew. Several months later, I met the first of them in Baltimore at a Red Sox-O's game that they had road tripped down for. We had a great time and they were normal (well as normal as Red Sox fans can be). The following year I did rent a house with a bunch of the Red Sox ladies in FL and went to my first Red Sox Spring Training. About 35 of us met up at a Saturday afternoon game, making the transition from virtual to real.

That summer, after taking a much needed couple of years off from the dating scene, I decided to try Match.com. I didn't want to meet someone at work or at a bar and other options seemed limited. Some friends had some success with Match so I figured why not? Everybody's doing it. I submitted my profile and left for the weekend.

On checking my email when I got back on Sunday night, I was shocked to find about 50 waiting for me. Apparently this is par for the course for new female members. In the end, I met a few but nothing panned out. There were some highlights though. On a first date with one guy, we met up for drinks at a bar. As I was guzzling away a glass of wine to soothe my nerves, he announced that he is a recovering alcoholic. Wha? I realized he was sipping an iced tea. The next hour we had a very uncomfortable therapy session where I learned the whole history of his party days, days sober, etc. Another guy was spouting his ambition to be a senator after we met up and every time we talked since. Ok, buddy, we are in DC, everyone wants to be in the political big time. The curious thing is he was putting me through an assessment to see if I was suitable to be a senators wife. Hmm, slow down buddy.

It all just goes to show that sometimes you meet people online and can hit it off and other times their online personality is somewhat (ok, very) different than their in person personality.

Since those days, I have met M. (ironically at a bar, and from the same company) and moved to Germany. My online connections shifted to the world of bloggers. I wanted to know what I was getting myself into if I moved to Germany and knowing no one who had been through it I turned to the internet. That is where I found the first blog I ever read (not even knowing what a blog was) - Culture Shock andn the Blonde Librarian (now divorced and returned to the States after 4 years in Germany).

These personal accounts helped me to understand better what was coming up after I accepted my position in Switzerland adn contemplated a longer term stay in Europe. In time I started my own blog and exchanged comments and emails with this informal support network. I missed last year's opportunity to get to know some of the German bloggers in person.

However this spring, M. and I met some of the Swiss bloggers for a Sunday brunch in Basel. This week, I met Schokolade Madchen and her friend Wis for a girls and dogs afternoon at a beer garden. Fun times with these interesting ladies and their mindful puppies. Finally people who can really related to my life and vice versa! We had such a good time that SM and G met up with me and M. for beers on the public holiday on Wednesday. Not sure that was a good idea, as you can keep one German man in the 21st century if you isolate him. Putting the two of them together was big trouble though! Crazy as it may be, I look forward to doing it again.

Make no mistake, no matter how much you take to being an expat there are some really tough times. Like all the high and lows in life, the times are made sweeter with the people you share it with.

So, on a final note, please keep in mind that there are a few more days of voting left for the timing of the next Whiney Expat Meetup in Dresden. As it looks to be in November, I should be able to make it - waiting on the final date to know for sure. More about it here and here.

Posted from Munich

1 comment:

EuroTrippen said...

Looking forward to meeting you, and I hope you bring your German. I love talking to other expats who get my craving for sweet tarts (should 'sweettarts' be one word or two? i've tried it both way and it still looks wrong)and Jeopardy reruns. But I equally enjoy talking to the Germans who put up with us (and our whining!) on a daily basis.