Friends With Strangers

NatalieGonzalez

Last year was harder than I would like to admit. Dealing with all kinds of shit and not knowing up from down. Sunlight is never available when needed...and I’m a Floridian! But somehow, in the rain, I found a beam of hope and it came from the most unlikely of places.

When I got my Peloton years ago I never dreamed I would actually meet new people on it! It’s the introvert's way to work out, right? No pressure from sexier gym goers...right? Wrong.

Over three years ago, my husband bought me a Peloton Bike after I had gone to a spin class with my good friend Stephanie. Being that I have so many kids, it just wasn’t feasible for me to go to spin classes an hour away from our house and at that time spin studios were just becoming popular. I loved it and I hated it. Used it and then didn’t. But last year, I really got into the habit of using it more and discovering ALL my Peloton had to offer.

I guess I didn’t realize it at the time, but this piece of exercise equipment has connected me in so many ways. It’s strange, because I would hear mention of people becoming friends through it and I always wondered how. Then, I realized what it was. Social Media. In fact there’s a whole community of people who love their Peloton Bikes more than is considered normal. A tribe. A gang. Whatever you call it...it’s real.

I've only been back on social media for a year after taking a ten-year sabbatical. So, I began to connect the dots a little later in the game. However, towards the end of 2019 I became “the bomb." I had this community of pedaling Peloton people high-fiving me on the leaderboard during rides and then also encouraging me on social media. It went from a digital gym pal to an internet friend. This relational aspect of my Peloton is something I’m still wrestling with today, having watched WAY to many crime shows from a very young age.

I’ve met some truly amazing people in the Peloton community and every now and then I make new ones that really just get me and where I’m at in my life. By the end of 2019, those connections became more real than I expected when something happened. When I would post in my Instagram account, they would like my posts and really interact with them. Was I actually appealing to these strangers on the interwebs? Could it be that we are actually, dare I say it, real friends?

At first I didn’t know how it all began (which is semi-scary), but in one particular post I wrote about throwing things away, and then waiting for God to bless me enough to buy things I really wanted, like purchasing from this online fitness apparel boutique I follow. When the owner of that boutique liked my post, I found myself feeling surprisingly giddy.

You can imagine my shock when, two weeks later, I received a package in the mail from Michelle, the boutique owner! I saw the pink and gold wrapping and immediately recognized it from her posts. I began to cry. Her card inside was touching. Honestly, she almost ran out of space detailing how much the post on Instagram meant to her. She also included an entire workout outfit from her boutique, Embrace EveryBody, along with a shirt that says “Babes Support Babes”.

I realize now that she got my address from a fellow Peloton pal who had sent me some samples of skin care stuff when I responded to one of her stories desperately wanting some face wash! So, if you're keeping track, in less than three months, these two people who I didn’t know from Adam had blessed me miraculously and without provocation with gifts. Just out of the kindness of their hearts. Maybe the world wasn’t so shitty after all. It helped me see a silver lining at a time when up and down were confused and my chest often felt tighter than your skinny jeans!

​Then, right before Christmas, I received another package. This time it was from Crystal, another Pelo-sister. She broke the mold on setting my soul ablaze. She sparked in me a fire that is still blazing right now because she sent me the most amazing gift. A true Christmas Miracle! A package with a book called Grit & Grace, a card (which is still on display in my house even though it’s not Christmas anymore), and gift cards to Aldi in the amount I spend in one week on groceries. Jaw-dropping stuff, guys.

Let me be clear, while it was a substantial amount of money and I’m very grateful for that large of a gift (to my standards at least), by Crystal sending THAT amount meant something more to me. It meant she was following me on social media , getting to know me, interacting with me. All through technology. I post each Friday about my adventures at Aldi and trying to stay below a certain dollar amount each week and she knew that! Never have we met in person. I haven't met ANY of these three amazing women in person. And yet they have all blessed my life.

From Cali to Colorado, these people showed up for me. Not because I asked or because they had to, they just wanted to. Something I said sparked them into relationship with me and even doing a kind thing for me. Somehow, on three separate occasions, I received a package from each one of those ladies. Inside, I found gifts WAY more than I deserved that made me feel seen at a time that I was battling depression and a lot of changes.

Each one gave me things that were just for ME. Natalie. Not something for my kids or family. For me. And their kindness changed me. Sometimes, as a stay at home mom, I feel like a tissue. Supportive when needed but disposable. Then these three women came along and made me feel like a star! They believed in me without ever having met me and it made me feel so strong, so beautiful, and most of all...loved.

From total strangers on a piece of exercise equipment to people I count as friends now. I know a lot of people roll their eyes about the bike that goes nowhere. But this bike has taken me to more places than I could ever have imagined. I feel blessed to know them and to call them my friends.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. Have you ever made friends with people on the internet? How did that come about?

Q2. What Facebook groups are you a part of and why?

Q3. Who are your favorite people to follow on social media and why?

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