For those of us who travel and are at all sociable, you collect friends around the world. If you don’t travel, but have professional interests–likely the same. For all the fiber fanatics, there is Ravelry, so again, communications with other people who share your interest around the world.
Thinking back, I first started “collecting” people who I knew only over the internet in about 1995 with the original Knitlist. Hosted on a university server somewhere, it wasn’t one of the alt.knit.whatever discussion groups. Rather, it was a traditional group list just slightly advanced from the original bulletin boards of Fidonet. It was how I got to know Pat in Michigan, Cat in Australia, Isobel in New Hampshire, and Mary who lived in upstate New York at the time. Not all that long after, the deployments to the Balkans started which added Kris from Washington State and Val from the reserves. Shamash, the Reconstructionist list added in Ira in Boston, Steven in Los Angeles, and Steve in Rochester.
My first serious, organized attempt at staying connected started in 1998 with my deployment to the Balkans. That email list has continued to the present day with additions and deletions as time and interest dictated. Some included are people who I have known since college, others are those who I have gotten to know in the last couple of years. Two are adults, but I first met when I delivered them back in the days when I was doing OB. I have added those with whom I have served, from both the German and UK military.
I mention this now as I think of one German reserve officer who I first met in 1999 while attached to the German Military. A very junior sergeant then, Christian was looking to attempt the US Army’s Expert Field Medical Badge. We are now 20 years down the line, he is a fire department Capt, works search and rescue and is an officer in the Reserves. Or one of the most brilliant medical corps officers I have ever met – Beverly is now retired from the UK and, after earning a PhD, continues serving by researching veteran’s health in Scotland.
There are those I know from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, Israel – military, former military, families, friends, average people working to improve the lives of others. I would like at times to believe that I make a contribution, but perhaps the most important part is to simply stay connected and remember.