Recently I had some exciting news to share with some close friends that my wife and I were traveling with.
I sat across the table and told them that I was about to meet up with a man I met on the internet. They kind of stared a little bit and said something like ‘ok, um, that’s nice’. I could tell that my trying to make this upcoming meeting sound legitimate was not going as planned so I abandoned trying to explain it.
Because, really, how many scenarios end well when a man announces that he’s traveling to ‘meet this man I met on the internet’?
Since buying our first pc in 1993, with 120 megs of storage, I have loved tech. Building pcs, playing with them and programming them.
A few years later, and before Facetime and Skype on our handy dandy cellphones now, I downloaded an emerging video chat program on my home PC to try that out for kicks and giggles. I don’t remember how it worked but it connected me with a guy in Canada named Steve. Our video cameras clicked on and we started talking about our kids. We talked about our jobs, our mutual love of coffee and well, we just talked about life.
The conversation was nice. It was comfortable.
Soon, it became customary for me to sit down in my office at night when everyone was in bed and have a keyboard chat with my Canadian buddy in the quiet of my office. It came to be a relaxing part of my day.
We’d talk about how his day was in Canada. How my day was here. How the weather was. He’d try to explain to me about Canadian curling. It was man talk; talk with another man that understood the trials of being an understanding father when your kid flushes a Hotwheels car down the toilet.
Over the years this electronic friendship continued through different platforms. I talked Steve through the trials of a divorce. Steve talked me through coping with the loss of the feeling of being secure in America on that devastating day; Sept 11 when I didn’t know if my wife and kids or I would make it through the day. Our feeling of safety was forever stolen that day. But over coffee and his keyboard, Steve helped me keep things in perspective that day.
And the conversations were always comfortable.
Over the years, and along the way, we made plans that one day we would meet in person. We’d shake hands. More than once we plotted a path to meet in the middle. But life never allowed that meeting to happen.
Then suddenly, destiny provided a route for that meeting. His job required that he travel from Canada to Cookeville, Tennessee. When he told me about it, of course, we made plans to make this meeting happen.
When I pulled up to Opry Mills Mall, he was standing there smiling ear to ear. I felt my cheeks rise up in a smile. 20 years and untold conversations later, and we were about to meet in person.
Several handshakes and hugs later, we sat at Starbucks and just talked and drank coffee. We talked about our kids/wives/pets and called them all by name like we lived next door to each other all of these years. Then I took my Canadian friend straight into the bowels of the heckticity of Nashville, Tennessee downtown on a Preds game night. We were both ready for sedation after that regrettable excursion.
The day was spent reminiscing and talking like we had been friends forever. Which, we had. Just not in person. A few times we’d kinda stop and look at each other and say something like ‘look at us. We finally got to meet.’
Through the surrealness of the day, the one common adjective kept coming up in my mind was ‘comfortable.’
It was a comfortable like your-favorite-T-shirt-on-a-Sunday-morning kind of comfortable.
Then the day ended with future plans and goodbyes. Steve is an amazing person and we are blessed and gifted to have this friendship. Whether he is down the road or in another country, we still have a reliable friendship. And he’s either a keyboard or a camera away when I need to tell him about my granddaughter’s latest accomplishments or I am a keyboard or camera away when he video chats and shows me HIS new grandchild that is coming soon.
Saying goodbye to people that are important to you is never a good thing. But at the same time, what an amazing gift it is to have people in your life that whether it’s online or in-person, that person makes you…
That’s the best that I can tell about it,