It's a labor of love these sisters share - imaginary friends they create, customize, and control. Their names, their looks, and their personalities all a hybrid of ingenuity and necessity, a mash-up of real life friends tweaked to perfection.
What they love, they keep. What they want, they add.
These friendships, these imaginary companions keep them occupied for some time, an exercise in a world of their own making with relationships of their own choosing. Any hurts are dramatized, the pleasure stilted and choreographed.
None of it like the real thing, for better or for worse.
As I watch them, I think about how much this, their scripted interaction with invented confidantes, mirrors our own fascination with our online lives, our online presence, platform, and populace. We want followers and friends, on facebook, twitter, Instagram, or blogs - come as you are, whoever you are...just please, please! like me and the stuff I say and do.
My posse I can name, sounding out my loyalties to friends in a roster where all begin with @ or end in .com. These? These are the friends I wish I had in real life, this collage of characters most like me or who I wish I was, the ones whose words and lives and pictures appeal to the isolation in my soul.
In a world of lonely lives and hurting hearts, we disperse from the masses to solitude in our homes staring at concocted kaleidoscopes of realities, self-edited prisms of truth and perspective, hoping to make a connection.
Needing community, we take to the keys. Longing for purpose, we pursue our platforms.
And this, this virtual world of beautiful people and like-minded kindred kith add to our life in infinite ways - widening our perspectives, stretching our understanding, challenging our fantastical perceptions, and even giving us volume to the voice we carry inside.
Yet in some ways they too are a mash-up of desire, an alternate reality of our own making for our specific choosing. It's less evasive to thrash out hurts in a space where my tears are hidden; it's cathartic to admit my foibles and failures without the threat of accountability or repercussion. It's far easier to pen my life story than to actually act out my convictions for a live audience.
We are emboldened by those who click a thumbs up for their acceptance of us even as we still wake to a lonely reality.
For all the promise that virtual community holds, for better or for worse, nothing can replace the real thing, especially for the better, especially when others around you are longing for you to offer your best.
A digital :) titillates, a full-face smile over shared corner booth warms. Hugs and kisses tapped out in text are whispers of love, an embrace that surrounds and holds me tall when I can hardly stand screams that there is someone here for me. "With you in spirit" is the next best thing, but "present with you" is what we most long for.
An invitation to dinner while my husband is away, an email that grants me "permission to speak into (her) life" as a friend journeys a difficult road chosen for her by another, a muffled cry telephoned for help from down the road, a poolside catch-up that reminds how much she has blessed my life, ...these are the realities I long for, the messy and tired worst that often bring forth the better and the deeper. No hiding who we are, no shrinking back from where God has placed us, using our voice, our gifts, our strength, our passion to create community here, right where we are, right where lonely hearts are longing.
The sisters planned for and played in their world for long moments soaking up the gift of the other. This is what I want for them throughout their lives: friendship among kin, created harmony amid inevitable chaos, and a sincere appreciation for the melding of broken lives into kindred spirits.
This is the reality I want, I crave, I need. Navigating reality with transparent authenticity with flesh and blood in my home, in my neighborhood, and in my circle of influence, this is why I was placed here for such a time for such as these.