I’ve heard countless people now sharing experiences of meeting people in real life (IRL) they met online. Now, I’ve had this opportunity more than once, my first internet meeting being with Kerflop at Blogher ’06.

Childcare was provided.

I thought I would be nervous, but I wasn’t at all. After years of phone conversations and thousands of IMs and emails, there was already so much shared.

But there is something missing when you can’t be near someone you are such good friends with online. There were times I wanted to drive over and help her out on bad days. When my son was in the hospital, it was so hard for her to sit and wait for phone calls. More than once we sent care packages, called local restaurants for home deliveries, made ourselves available for late night crisis calls, and in general, did all the friend things.

We’ve grown up together online, started and sold businesses, and stretch each other at every turn. I love this woman and I know she loves me, and when we met again at Blogher ’07, we kicked our feet up with several of our other internet friends and had the time of our lives.

4 Girls in a Limo

Seven months have passed and in that seven months I’ve met even more online friends, some I’ve come to know more personally than others, but I’m thankful for all of them.

One of those friends, Bethany was driving through our area of Texas en route to see family and made a 3 day stopover in OMSHville.

Bethany Actually puts the "A" in Awesome

From the start, I knew it was going to be a fabulous time; it was. In fact, as much as we wore each other out, keeping late hours, it was 100% fun. The guys got along fabulously. The kids had a great time. Everyone slept hard when we did and walked around with bedheads in the morning. Coffee was the mainstay and the click of keystrokes went on all the live long day.

Dualing Laptops Part Duex
Photo by: Bethany Actually

I couldn’t have dreamed it would have been any better. And as much as I know there are real things to be concerned about when you invite perfect strangers to one’s home – I never felt like Bethany was a stranger.

With blogs, flickr, email and IM, the internet is very much a living and breathing environment. Relationships that start here can blossom into something that clearly can extend beyond the monitor.

I’ve experienced it more than once now; I’m a believer.

Have you?

What’s your experience?