On Easter I baked a new pie which hinted of lemony, salty deliciousness in every bite. The recipe came from a magazine that was sent to me by a dear friend and baked in a yellow pie plate given to me by another. This is a story of friends, pie, and the power of Facebook.
A few weeks ago I received a thin brown envelope in the mail. When I opened it I pulled out a magazine and a two-page handwritten letter from Sue, a college friend and sorority sister who now lives in North Carolina. When she saw this pie issue she immediately thought of me, went out to purchase another copy, and then took the time to write a note. I was touched by her kind words and the effort she put into this simple gift.
Last week we traveled down to Alabama to spend a few days along the coast and also see friends of ours. One rainy night we invited them over to our little cottage to share wine, pizza, and many stories. Evelyn gave me a beautiful yellow pie plate, knowing how much I love to bake. My heart was grateful for this sweet present and the thought she put into it.
The remarkable thing about these two women is we would not be friends today if was not for Facebook, this mighty, often invasive, yet connective social media platform. Through Facebook posts I have gotten to know both of them through photos of their vacations, children, and pets. They are both kind, intelligent, and compassionate women, and my life would be emptier without them.
I met Sue at college after I pledged a sorority. We took classes together, yet we each had our own circles of friends that often didn’t intersect. After graduation we both went our separate ways: me to various cities and teaching jobs, she to Kansas City to teach and then work at Hallmark. A few years back we reconnected through Facebook, and then introduced each other to our husbands, children, and menageries of cats and dogs. When I retired early because of a health diagnosis, she messaged me to say she also suffered from it. She has continued to give me sound advice on how to manage it, from diet to vitamins. We both adore Pat Conroy books, the lilting and weighty sound of his words and we both mourned his passing a few years ago. We are intrinsically connected through books, good writing, and mutual admiration for one another.
I went to junior high and high school with Evelyn, but we were not friends. She ran with a wilder (her words!) crowd, breaking rules and howling at the moon. She and I existed in different universes. I attempted to quietly walk within those restrictive rules, believing I was unnoticed and invisible. When she first requested to be my friend on Facebook, I had to search my mental rolodex to remember who she was, but it did not take long for us to become true friends. Our children were close in age, and we ended up having much in common, despite the miles between us. After the tragic loss of another high school/Facebook friend, we reached out to one another and haven’t let go. Now we meet once a year down on the coast of Alabama. We laugh and cry and hold onto to one another through joys and losses, various medical procedures and health scares, stories of our children, and the precarious state of this country.
I adore these two women and count them among my dearest friends, even though Sue now lives in North Carolina and Evelyn in Alabama. Facebook has made it possible to be virtual pen pals, sharing our lives and our hearts with every message and photo.
Facebook is in some deep disgusting shit these days. It has allowed outside entities to scrape our data without our permission. Mark Zuckerberg has a lot of explaining AND fixing to do in order for us to trust him again, if that is even possible. Many, including me, have felt exposed and vulnerable. I’ve tightened up my privacy settings and removed apps that automatically connect to Facebook. I contemplated severing my ties to this behemoth, yet, here’s the thing. I like being connected. I adore seeing pictures of friends’ kids and grandkids. I love the inspirational sites I follow that often give me ideas for other blog pieces. Following journalists such as Dan Rather and Connie Schultz continue to offer up sane words for this fractured nation of ours. Through Facebook, I am even able to share my own crazy rambling words through this blog. Over the past few years I’ve attempted to purge negativity and ignorance from my page, which is a difficult and ongoing task. I no longer comment or try to debate with those who have different views than mine. If I am terribly offended, I unfollow or unfriend, and I also understand if others have done the same to me. I choose to discover intelligent information and bask in remarkable joy through my feed. It is my prerogative.
This is what I seek and often find in my social media platforms: hope. Hope in these far-flung friendships. Hope in the work of scholars, scientists, teenage activists, and poets. Hope in every photo of a new grandchild, sunset, and spring flower. And hope in pie. There is always hope in pie.