You know how in the beginning of The Wizard of Oz the picture goes from black and white to color? I sort of had that experience today as my I-met-her-once Facebook friend Phyllis went from a teeny-tiny, two-dimensional photo to a three-dimensional, live-and-in-person person in New York City.
Here’s how the events unfolded:
You may recall that last month at Biennial, I met Phyllis, who I’d previously known only on Facebook. (You can read about that encounter here.) In our blink-of-an-eye conversation in Toronto, she said she’d be in New York in December and we quickly exchanged phone numbers in the hope that during that trip, there might be time for coffee.
This past Sunday night, Phyllis posted this on Facebook: Phyllis is getting very excited for her trip to NYC this week! I commented with this: Where will you be? What are you doing? Time for coffee?
Last night, she updated with this: Phyllis can't quite believe that she booked a SIX AM FLIGHT for tomorrow morning. It's off to bed I go...
And early this morning this: Phyllis is headed to NYC!!!!! See ya in the Eastern Time Zone:)
As I was settling into my desk at work, she had already flown in from Chicago, was poking around in the Village and posted this: Phyllis is feeling like the Country Mouse. Facebook friends quickly advised her to wear black, to keep her camera out of sight and to purchase a scarf—to be tied in just the right way—from a street vendor.
Hoping to offer some explanation for the clothing penchants of New Yorkers, I chimed in with this: New Yorkers wear black because our closets are so small that we don't have room for a hundred different color schemes. Everything has to match...and so we accessorize with scarves we buy on the street! (Today, in fact, I happen to be wearing one that I bought at 42nd and Third for $5) :)
A bit later, having visited Magnolia Bakery for a cupcake, the Country Mouse from Chicago posted this: Phyllis is putting her faith in Google maps.
Shortly thereafter, my cell phone rang and it was the Country Mouse herself, asking if I could meet her downtown for coffee. Unfortunately, I was at work in midtown and due in a meeting in a few minutes. She promised to call again in the afternoon—when she and Leslie, a mutual friend, would be a bit closer—and I promised to duck out for a while to meet them.
I then went back to writing tribute letters, researching my next article for Reform Judaism magazine and, as one colleague is fond of saying, “serving in HaShem’s Army.” Phyllis and I spoke again in the middle of the afternoon and the three of us arranged to meet for dinner on the west side, near the theater where she and Leslie had tickets for a show.
Just before I left the office for Times Square, I posted this: Jane is excited about dinner tonight -- a totally unexpected and pleasant surprise! And pleasant it was! Without missing a beat (and over yummy Italian fare), Leslie, Phyllis and I picked up our chat in person right where we’d left it off in cyberspace. In fact, had the two of them not had to race off to make a 7 p.m. curtain, I suspect we might still be schmoozing over cappuccino--smiling, chatting, laughing and marveling at the amazing power of Facebook to bring us all together.