Friday, September 24, 2010

At the Airport

Here's the piece of information only a very few people knew about my trip last week.  I'd never met the person on the other end that I was planning to spend a week with.  We'd never talked by phone or skype.  We'd never seen each other's faces in anything other than pictures.

A little over two years ago I posted this on my blog, and came home later that night to find an email waiting for me from a woman who shared my first name and last initial, telling me that she'd been reading my blog for quite some time, and that it seemed we shared oddly parallel lives and that the post on Papua New Guinea tipped the scales and pushed her into writing.  She closed her note by saying she'd thought it was finally time to introduce herself, and that she'd been praying for me, even though she didn't even "know" me.

I remember feeling pleasantly surprised, and slightly wary - it is the internet after all, who knows who it was that was writing me?  But I replied, and we slowly started to trade regular emails, every few weeks, then weekly, then, by the time I was needing to find an escape after finishing my crazy summer of school and other things, nearly daily.

We'd been talking for quite some time about getting together in person, and since neither of us is particularly shy about hopping on airplanes and going, we knew it would eventually happen, we just didn't know when.  Her coming to me is limited by the fact that she is Californian and doesn't "do" winter - an admittedly complicating factor since I live in a place that really does seem to have winter or threaten the coming of winter at least nine months a year!  And me going there?  Well, it always sort of seemed like a pipe dream in my head, one of those "that's a fun dream for a long way down the road" sorts of things.

And then I had this crazy summer.  The summer that came after months and months of everything in my life deconstructing itself.  And some complicating factors in the month of September that left me knowing that I was in desperate need of a temporary relocation and break, preferably with a friend that had become dear.

After two years of trading emails, blog posts and comment, and facebook comments, I was comfortable that I probably wasn't flying into some sort of crazy abduction situation and sent her a message "so, do you want a visitor?" and got an enthusiastic "are you serious? yes!" in response.  I booked tickets using rewards points, and hopped on a plane to meet in person the person that knew all kinds of things about me that even my family doesn't know.

I'd have normally probably tried to at least talk by phone or skype before getting on a plane to meet a total stranger, but we both have lives that tend to get crazy, and neither of our lives disappointed in the two weeks between when I booked tickets and when I got on the plane early one Tuesday morning.  I really was going to meet and hear her voice for the first time upon landing (a fact, which, by the way, was causing a bit of consternation for a few of those who knew what I'd planned!)

We debated back and forth by email about what story we'd use to explain how we'd met, knowing that since I was from out of country (as it seems that so many of both of our friends are!), we'd be asked where we'd met.  After throwing around some perfectly ridiculous options (I think her favorite was "we met when our fathers were both in the CIA") and knowing that neither one of us would make it through them with a straight face, we settled on the truth, "we met at the airport on Tuesday", and I began anxiously anticipating the startled and confused looks we'd get while explaining this to her friends.

They didn't disappoint.  We used our story within hours of my arrival and the confusion was fabulous.  "Wait, you only met this morning?"  As the week went on, we began to naturally take turns with the line, and then the explanation, "well, I have this blog, and she was reading it, and then she emailed me, and we've been emailing regularly for several years, but we really did meet for the first time at the airport on Tuesday."

When I walked off a plane last week in San Diego and into a hug, all I knew was that I was looking forward to a week of putting a face and personality to the emails and stories we'd shared for years.  And, it was fabulous.  I'll share more in the coming days, but thought I'd close this post with a picture of my new but totally not new dear friend.  This is us, affectionately known as LP/CA and the other LP/CA (the way we've signed emails for ages, a reference to our shared name, and the shared initials of our locations of residence).


Anonymous said...


shallowfrozenwater said...

wow. i've had a couple of occasions where i've met with "internet friends" and i never got past the feeling that i was on a "man-date". it's ok though, not once was i come-on-to. it sure is an uneasy eery feeling though.

Lisa said...

Ian - your comment about being on a "man-date" literally made me laugh out loud! I think it helped that we'd traded so many emails and had even live chatted - we'd just never heard each other's voices or met in person.

I've met a few other internet friends, and it's mostly been a good experience, but I don't think I would fly to another country to meet too many people. Clearly LP/CA is special in that regard! :)