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Sunday August 28, 2005 // By Sandy

Fitting into old roles, defining new ones

Right now we’re in an airplane flying eastward over the Missouri River. It’s the final stretch of a long and exhausting weekend in the Pacific Northwest. A weekend that featured a reunion with old friends and the blossoming of a few new ones. It was also our first big trip together as a betrothed couple, and I’m happy to say the early returns show solid endorsements all around.

Twice this weekend we met up with folks whose friendship is almost entirely virtual. One runs a blog Sarah and I both read regularly, and the other I’ve met a couple times at conferences, but whose life is so well-chronicled online that I feel I know certain details of his life better than I know mine. The meet-ups were an opportunity to bring the friendships—as lop-sided as they may be—into three dimensions. I think there was also a bit of learning-from-the-masters vibe to both meetings, as Sarah and I are obviously new members of the exhibitionism-via-blogging country club. But both times we came away feeling about as impressed and relaxed as possible. It’s easy to forget that these folks are real people, and in these two cases, two of the nicest folks we could have spent our vacation time with.

The rest of the weekend was spent at festivities surrounding the wedding of an old college buddy of mine. It was a bit surreal to be spending time with a group of friends I hadn’t seen all together in a half-dozen years, and whose behavior as a group instantly regressed into a reflection of that time. The difference now, besides less tolerant livers, is that a few of us come attached with new girlfriends, fianceés and husbands. It’s not too hard for a group to swallow a new person into it, especially this one, but it’s entirely something else for the new person to stay afloat in a sea of shared nostalgia. But Sarah performed admirably, and by the end of the weekend I was accepting repeated congratulations on how awesome she is.

It’s hard to react to a compliment like that. Do I say “Thanks”? It’s not like I can claim responsibility. Do I say “I know!”? Sounds arrogant. Usually I respond with some self-effacing combination of the two. What I’m beginning to realize now, though, is instead of worrying about how she’ll fare in these situations, I need to worry about how I’ll weather the boost in cred that she so effortlessly brings me. Who’s riding whose coattails here?

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