In 1993 we moved to Portland, Oregon. I left behind my business, my friends, all my connections. In Portland it was dark, it was raining constantly and I got very sick--complications from a ruptured appendix. It was a very low point and aside from my immediate family, I was alone. Then a coworker of my husband learned that I was a quilter and she asked if I was aware of an online quilting listserv called Quiltnet. I was barely aware of the internet, which was just starting to take off back then, but I got myself online and connected to Quiltnet and I suddenly had someone to talk to--well, type to. Now, 26 years later I am still online and connected to the world in ways I never imagined back then. I have friends in all parts of the world. Quiltnet led to other online connections and in true "web" fashion, gave me access to thousands of like-minded people across the globe, and to opportunities I never dreamed existed. I have been "with" longtime virtual friends through the years, observing, from afar, their quilts, their children, their travels, their triumphs and tragedies. Some I have met face to face, some not. Some, I hope to meet in the next few days! The "tribe" is gathering, as they do each year, in Houston.
The International Quilt Festival, held each year in Houston, is the largest show of quilts, both traditional and art quilts, in the world. It brings quilters from around the world, including many of my virtual friends.and I will be there this year. I am packing to leave tomorrow. I am fortunate to be showing a group of my art quilts in a special exhibit called "Rising Stars". I am sharing that honor with one of my Cloth in Common friends, Maria Shell. We will meet for the first time, but we have known each other for years. I will meet Lisa from Australia and Mikiko from Japan, both members of Cloth in Common. I will see old friends, and meet some for the first time--all friends I have known online.
My life changed that long ago, rainy day when I sat down to my computer and took on the worldwide web. I became part of an international community and my life has been richer for it in ways even I don't understand.