Thanksgiving is, well, tomorrow. So it is only fitting that I post something relating to giving thanks or pilgrims. Since I’m not feeling compelled to compose historical fiction today, I’ve decided to go with the former.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the Internet. Now hang in there with me – it’s not quite as materialistic as it may seem!
Firstly I thank the Internet because it has allowed me to find odd roadside attractions. If you read about my journey to Maker’s Mark, then you know that I have taken many a road trip over the years, but have rarely stopped to enjoy the sites or local quirks along the way. I am the girl who has always wanted to see the world’s largest ball of twine. I’m her. That girl. The one who wants the cheap photo op and a kitschy reminder that I WAS THERE.
Next, and more importantly, I am thankful for the Internet because it has given me the opportunity to creep on people. Does that sound weird? It should, because it is. Nevertheless, that’s what kids call it these days. It allows me to search for people by stalking their Facebook pages or finding a phone number or connecting through some other social media platform – all from the comfort of my living room sofa and with no one the wiser. Creeping is definitely the correct word to use. And maybe “sad”? …
Anyway, by “creeping” I’ve been able to reconnect with people I left behind when I went to college, or that I forgot about or ignored or just became too busy to devote time to through the years. Those are really really crappy reasons to lose touch with people, by the way, I totally know that. But if the last 15 years or so have taught me anything, I am that girl, too. I take full responsibility for pretty much any distant or failed relationship I’ve had with most anyone since I moved down South (all of you still waiting on an email from me from 2004 understand completely what I’m saying here), but hey – I’m trying. I’m slowly reconnecting dots, and that’s because of the Internet.
One of my most valued connections made has been with my much much
much older cousin Brad. Now here’s what you need to know about Brad. Brad and I were never close. He lived in Florida when I was growing up in Indiana. And of course there’s an age difference. There were like 13 or 14 years between our fathers and each of us was on the younger end of the sibling spectrum. To put it more succinctly – Brad clearly remembers things of his era like LBJ in office whereas I recollect things like the pilot episode of ALF. But even though I was so much younger, I thought he and his wife Paula were the absolute coolest when they would visit with us back home.
It had been at least ten years and likely more since I’d last seen them, and because of the distance and the age difference, we didn’t exactly know each other really well. We weren’t the ones yucking it up together at family reunions, for instance. I mean I didn’t have a phone number or anything. I had found Brad on Facebook and we connected through there.
Which brings me to March 2014: I found myself doing that app thing – eating BBQ and stopping by roadside attractions. My next target was not far from where Brad and Paula currently lived. They were quasi-on the way. And at the time, probably because of my No-Take-Backs challenge to myself (if I’m being completely sincere), I wanted to see them. I wanted to see my cousin that I remembered being super cool and his wife that I totally adored.
So we set it up. Not only did I get to see them, but they opened their house to me. They took me to a concert. They bought me dinner. They were so gracious and so … funny. I loved hanging out with them. I loved sharing a beer (was I even legal the last time I saw them?). I loved learning things about my uncle and hearing stories about the family. I loved that we really truly connected. We were no longer just Facebook acquaintances sharing some of the same genes. We were family sharing our lives with one another. And that wasn’t just cool, that was incredible. Thank you, Internet.
Which brings me to Foamhenge.
I. Saw. Foamhenge. Yes folks, it’s really a thing. It’s actually a really impressive thing. Fomahenge is a styrofoam structure that has been sculpted to scale, replicating Stonehenge in the UK. The artist is Mark Cline. Can I just say how absolutely awe-inspiring it was to be standing there in the middle of nowhere looking at a styrofoam version of Stonehenge? Just let that sink in for a moment …….. I appreciated every detail about this work. The humor, the accuracy, the ode … It was everything I thought it would be and more. Thank you, Internet.
The best part? Brad and Paula shared that moment with me. I told you they were the coolest.
Because of the Internet, I had begun a quest to find some novel piece of off-road Americana in a random field in Virginia, but what I’d found was a piece of my history, a piece of who I am and where I came from along the way. I can’t thank my cousin enough for showing me that. Family is important, and no matter what has put the distance between us, we should always be striving to close that gap.
Life can be very short-lived. We need to take the opportunities that are out there and seize them. It’s Thanksgiving, folks. Be thankful for what you have and strive to share it and yourself with others. Reach out to that friend from grade school. Call your aunt you haven’t spoken to in years. Connect and reconnect. Let the Internet makes it so.