THE BLOG
02/12/2013 02:35 pm ET Updated Apr 14, 2013

Have You Met Your Internet Friends IRL (In Real Life)?

I'll have an order of excitement with a side dish of anxiety, please.

That about sums up the way I feel as I prepare to meet a group of women whom I have only known through social media. What should I wear? I will most certainly try on a dozen outfits before settling on the one that is best for dinner at a wonderful restaurant in New York City. What will they think of me? Will it be awkward?

Back in the olden days when social media was not yet called social media and the Cooking Channel was but a twinkle in a TV executive's eye, I discovered by chance a group of women on the Internet who shared my passion for cooking.

While surfing the net (does anyone still say that?) I stumbled upon this friendly bunch and stopped to say hello, and received a welcome the likes of which I hadn't seen since the Welcome Wagon showed up on our doorstep 15 years ago.

It was glorious to find others who, like me, had a proclivity for hoarding a massive quantity of recipes, who waxed rhapsodic over the latest Martha Stewart cookbook. Our virtual water cooler was an online message board monitored by the early morning television show, "Good Morning America," on which one could post questions, comments and start a conversation about cooking.

My culinary coterie became as treasured to me as their tried and true family recipes were to them. My morning ritual now included coffee and conversation with women from across the country. We talked about what we were making for dinner and discussed great Thanksgiving Day menus. We chatted about decorating birthday cakes and the best chili recipes. At Christmastime we had a virtual cookie exchange. I still have all those recipes.

Before too long, our range of topics expanded as we got to know each other better. We commented on events of the day, both around the world or in our own homes. We faced off on political issues, talked about parenting challenges, infertility, our many pets, sickness, graduations, mother-in-law issues. All the things you would share with friends.

After a couple of years, we decided we had to meet IRL. About eight of us traveled to Chicago and spent a fantastic weekend together. We talked and talked and talked and then talked some more. We had fabulous meals at different restaurants. We even took a pie crust cooking lesson at a local kitchen store. The best thing was that we never felt like this was the first we had met.

The GMA board was ultimately disbanded, but thanks to Facebook, many of us have stayed in touch, like you do with old friends who live far away but still hold a place in your heart.

So tonight, I will go home and start the fruitless process otherwise known as picking out an outfit to wear Thursday evening.

I do have butterflies, but more than that, I truly am psyched to meet 15 fabulous women whom I've come to know and admire through blogging. Fifteen women who consistently amaze me with their talent, writing ability and sense of humor. All of this without ever having spoken to or seen them.

Until it happens Thursday. IRL.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

PHOTO GALLERIES
7 Ways To Make Friends Post 50