I have a Former Life (FL) and a Present Life (PL). I make the distinction between them not because I moved from the New World to the Old. Not because my life changed when a long relationship ended. Not because I raised a child who left my nest. Not because of any ordinary milestone event.

I emptied my cache and clicked the refresh button on my life.

I live in Paris, where I’ve wanted to be my entire life, and I spend most of my time at my computer. But if it weren’t for my computer, I wouldn’t be here in the first place. I didn’t meet Vincent online, but we conducted our romance over the Internet for nearly a year before I got here. My novel, my art, my photos, my poetry, my 3 blogs, my website, my e-mail, Francophilia, my work—my brain, essentially—is in this computer (or on the Internet by way of this computer).

I have a number of good friends I’ve known for as long as 20 years who just don’t get it. In fact, I get the distinct impression that some of them have sincere concerns about my mental health. None of them have websites or blogs of their own. Not one! I created my website, and later my blog, to stay close to these distant friends, but it didn’t happen. Realizing they wouldn’t be following me through the looking glass was very painful, but I survived the five stages—and I really did go through them (here’s some denial)—and moved on.

There was a great article today in Le Monde 2 (the French equivalent of the NY Times or LA Times Sunday Magazine). Today’s edition was the annual special high-tech issue. The article was written by Claire Ulrich, a brilliant journalist friend of Vincent’s and mine (whom we met because we blog.) It’s entitled Plus belle, ma vie en ligne, and it’s all about just how rich an online life can be. Of course, it’s like anything else; what you get out of it depends on what you put into it:

Les plus grands bonheurs de la vie en ligne, ce sont les rencontres, les conversations passionnantes et les amitiés tissées autour des blogs, avec des êtres humains enfin débarassés de la quincaillerie des conventions, de l’âge, du physique et des hormones, du décalage horaire et de la distance.

[The greatest joys of online life come from meeting people, from impassioned conversations and friendships built around blogs with people who are no longer hindered by convention, age, physical appearance and hormones, time zones and distance.]

She’s right. The extraordinary people I’ve met from all over the world who do relate to my lifestyle have essentially replaced my FL friends. My online friends are more interested in what I think and do and feel these days. They’re far more communicative than my FL friends, and you know what? They get me. And I’m thrilled to be able to read their blogs and peek into their hearts and minds, to laugh and cry with them, to share. What are friends for, after all? Plus, these people know how to subscribe to my blog—and they do.

I asked my francophile friends, both FL and PL, to help me with Francophilia testing before it launched. My FL friends all knew this was something I’d wanted to do for a decade. But guess who showed up.

The article is beautifully written. Claire has somehow managed to retain a sense of wonder that most people have lost by the time they hit my age, and she makes you feel about the Internet the way Dorothy felt when she first gazed on the Emerald City. It will make you laugh and cry, so if you have the chance, pick it up. It’ll be on sale till tomorrow afternoon.

Vincent’s and my online love story is mentioned in the article! But ironically, not even the annual high-tech issue of Le Monde 2 is published online. So if you want a copy of the article, let me know and I’ll send you one. But don’t be expecting paper.