I don't really like the phrase "being friended on Facebook." Even the notification "You have a friend request" sounds terribly impersonal. I like how Leif phrases it..."so-and-so has asked for my friendship." It implies something more than skimming the latest posts and getting your own witty remarks out there before someone else does. It's an invitation to enter your life.
About the time I moved to Florence something unusual happened. Two women living on separate continents and separated by the Atlantic Ocean accidentally became friends on Facebook.
"Accidentally?" I hear you smirking at me. "How can you become friends with someone accidentally?"
When you put two technologically impaired women in their 40's on a computer anything can happen. So a woman in Central America asked to be my friend because (and this is truly weird) she knows someone with my name and thought I was her (or him?) Then I, in my infinite wisdom, meant to not accept and instead ended up accepting this request. The buttons are too close together...they've highlighted the wrong one...it was dark...I've got more excuses if you want them.
And there I sat, looking at my computer screen and wondering what the hell I had just done. It's like inviting a stranger into my living room and taking out the family photo albums without even knowing their name. Like handing my wallet to the person behind me in line, saying "Could you hold this for a second" and turning my back on them. Sure, they could be someone you can trust. Or they might not be. I don't even consider this to be a 50/50 chance anymore. More like 30/70. Or maybe I mean 70/30...statistics are not my strong suit.
So now I had a friend I didn't know, from a place I'd never been and whose first language I barely passed in college. But I figured the beauty of Facebook is that my interaction with friends is totally controlled by me, so as long as I didn't do anything, she wouldn't either.
Then one day during my first visit, I was sitting in my kitchen in Florence playing on Facebook and suddenly there she was, wanting to chat with me. I spent valuable seconds playing "should I/shouldn't I?" before answering her. I mean, really...she was supposed to wait for me. I am in control here.
She said she had read my blog and wanted to talk a little about my experiences which lead to a discussion about her life. It's amazing to me how two radically different lives can contain so many similarities. We talked (Ok typed) almost like old friends, understanding the shorthand that chat forces on us. When we finished that day I knew that our combined mistakes weren't mistakes, they were an opportunity for two people to connect. That needed to connect.
I'm glad she took the initiative because I never would have. I would have totally missed out on an actual friendship with someone special. We have a similar age and experiences and children; we've loved and lost and found our way back. We've struggled. We've discovered a courage we didn't know existed. We can share our thoughts knowing that there is no past to cloud our listening and filter our response. We can afford to be honest with each other, because we really have nothing to lose...yet.
Every day I am amazed at how all the little, seemingly loose ends in my life slowly come together and form a whole I've never imagined. But I've also come to a point in my life where I know, with absolute certainty, that even when I don't know what's going to happen, something great is going to happen. And sometimes those great things hinge on something as silly as hitting the wrong button on my computer. The result, a true friend, is indeed a miracle.