I have a wall in my office that my back is turned to as I write at my desk.
The wall is covered of photos I put there, like the one of all my siblings and I together as adults, my mom’s senior portrait, my husband and kids on a hammock one summer, my MIL and SILs walking down the street in Chicago a few years back, my high school BFF and I on her wedding day, a snapshot of the girls I go to spa weekend with every year, my daughter laughing so big her head is thrown up towards the sun…
Yes, these are memories and people I love.
But mostly, they are my family. They are full-blood relatives and people I’ve known since I was a kid. They are relatives I didn’t know for decades-long spans of my life, but who came back to me. They are new friends and old. They are people whose lives I married into. They are neighbors and far-away folks who have stamped themselves into my heart.
Last night I had a book signing event, and to thank my for putting it together, a friend gave me a gift: a framed photo of me laughing to tears with a mutual friend.
The thing is, these are my “internet friends.”
It was Leslie Marinelli of The Bearded Iris who gave me the photo. In it, I am laughing with Kerry Rossow of HouseTalkN at a story Leslie was telling. What you can’t see, was that we were surrounded at that breakfast by even more blogger friends, like my writing partner Nicole Leigh Shaw, Anna Luther of My Life and Kids, Robyn Welling of Hollow Tree Ventures, and more.
Yes, I grew up with relatives and made friends in the communities I have lived in and had children in and am active in every regular day.
But I am also growing up online with a community of bloggers and writers who reach out to me – and I, them – every day as well. Every. Single. Day.
Then there are the readers who take the time to read, comment, share, laugh, cry, even drive to new places to meet me and support my dreams and prove to me that I’m not shouting into a deaf abyss.
When I hang new photos on this wall, it’s not to turn my back on them. It’s to remind myself that even though my journey is one I must take alone, these are the people that have my back. They believe in me even when I fail, forget, or get lost for a while. They are the people that have faith, even when I don’t.
Everyone on this wall is my family.
I am one lucky girl to have found my family in my blood, in my travels, in my neighborhood, and on the world wide web.
And today I am going to break a little promise to some of my family: I said I’d write up a funny post with all the prom pictures many of you sent in to me, but I’m not going to.
The last few days have been all about writing, two book events, and work. I have been all about showing my internet family and my book-reading family how much I appreciate them.
Today I am going to step back and focus on why I can do all this: I married the best guy ever.
It is our 10th wedding anniversary, and I think I owe an afternoon off to spend with the guy who believes in me more than I deserve, who never says no to anything I ask for in the quest to achieve a writing career, who has no understanding of the blogging or writing world yet doesn’t let that get in the way of cheering me on.
Without him, I’d be without all the loops of overlapping family that keep me held together today.
I truly believe that because I chose him and held on tight, I ended up here when I am with all those people on the wall behind me. And THAT, my friends, is worth celebrating.