She looked a little older than in her photo (who doesn’t?) but her face was also more interesting, with high cheekbones and Celtic almond eyes giving her an elfin aspect. And those online images failed to convey her frenetic intelligent energy — her expressions and gestures were wryly histrionic, a comedienne’s. But her smile was the same. The whole warm complex animal gestalt of her was unlike anything I could’ve gleaned from emails or jpegs. The difficult love in her voice when she talked about her father contained a compressed terabyte of information. The things that happen online have some of the same quality as things that happen in dreams, feeling unreal and disconnected from real life, melding together and paling in memory, evaporating within moments after you wake up or sign off. It was strange to meet someone from the internet out in the world and realize that she’d been real all along.