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Friendships made in 140 characters.

It's today's version of the long ago penpal, using short messages on Twitter to connect with people across town or across the world. I'm one of them. For over a year now, I've shared a morning hello with a group of women -- some are local, some from out of the area -- but we always check in with each other.

Some days it's a quick hi, a wish for a safe day or a celebratory comment, but we always touch base. While nothing beats a handwritten note, the instant connection you can make with someone you may not have otherwise met is pretty powerful. We're of all ages, faiths and occupations.

What brought us to each other, no one is quite sure. Someone followed someone and they followed someone. And so it goes. It may have started with commenting on someone's picture of a sunrise or simply sharing a kind word, but here we are: modern day penpals.

While we treasure the connection we've made via Twitter, it left us wanting more, after all it's hard to get a lot said in just 140 characters. So this weekend, we decided to all meet in person for the first time. It's been our own version of "Meet Me in St. Louis" and it's been wonderful.

Our friends from New York City and Detroit flew in on Friday and we haven't stopped since. I've literally been a tourist in my own town too! We've laughed, we've cried and have spent just about every waking minute together and as the hours go by the bonds grow stronger. From Crown Candy to Ted Drewes, from Imo's to Sump Coffee we've been sharing all St. Louis has to offer. We even shared a tornado warning and a rainbow, the tornado warning a first for the New Yorkers!

But the best thing we've shared by far is the time we've spent with each other. There has been an endless supply of words, hugs and memories that will now make new ones. This isn't the end, only the beginning. So if you've seen us around town this weekend, we're the ones that look like we've know each other forever.

Friendships made with 140 characters, only now it feels like family.

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