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Friends

13 March 2013

Busy busy. Funnily enough, the traffic seemed to consist of mainly taxi cabs.

Busy busy. Funnily enough, the traffic seemed to consist mainly of taxi cabs.

I met a good friend of mine in New York the other day. Ok, so that might not sound particularly noteworthy if it wasn’t for a couple of facts: firstly, I don’t live in New York (or in the United States, as it happens) and secondly, we had never met before.

But let’s start at the beginning.

The beginning

I got to know Amy on Twitter some 16 months ago. She was introduced to me by another Twitter friend (Hi Lisa!) and I started to follow her on Twitter and on her blog*. She turned out to be funny, intelligent, quirky and kind. Over time I got to know her well, and nowadays we email, text, tweet, Facebook and/or blog post comment each other 10 times a day or more.

We’ve been sending each other packets with stuff from our respective countries. After the house fire, Amy sent me some American sweets and a bunch of CDs with music for when I was driving across Europe during the move from Isle of Man to Finland. In turn, I’ve sent her Finnish chocolate, European music and a few Swedish films (no, not that kind of Swedish films – don’t be silly). I also sent her some salty liquorice (a.k.a. salmiakki), which she bravely tried:

Go to 3:30 if you’re in a hurry and want to cut to the chase. But you’ll miss a lot of awesome Amy-talk though.

The plan

We’ve always joked about the possibility to meet in real life some day. Amy wrote an open letter to some rich people with a proposition to sponsor her trip to Europe. And I’ve always wanted to go to New York, which isn’t that far from where Amy lives. But with a family and two small children it didn’t really seem plausible.

WebVisions New York 2013

WebVisions New York 2013

But then, an opportunity presented itself. The company I work for regularly send people on courses and conferences to help their employees to expand their knowledge and improve themselves in their field of expertise. So, whilst home on paternity leave a while back, one of my colleagues contacted me and said he and another of my colleagues were going to a web development conference in New York, and wondered if I would be interested to come along? Now, the WebVisions conference looked really interesting, with lots of talks and workshops on what we’re currently working on, so I was really eager to go. Plus, it was taking place in Manhattan, which was very cool. What if I would be able to meet up with Amy for a few hours? Wouldn’t that be the best?

The trip got approved and planned and I contacted Amy regarding the possibility to meet up on Saturday. She got really excited and was not at all worried that I’d be some kind of psychopath or serial killer. Or even a female truck driver**. Imagine that. So she decided she would take the train down to New York City on Saturday morning and then the train back late in the evening. That way, we’d get a full 12 hours of New Yorking together.

The trip

Those check-in machines were pure evil! We were three web developers struggling for 30 minutes trying to get us checked in.

Those check-in machines were pure evil! We were three web developers struggling for 30 minutes trying to get us checked in.

The weeks flew by, and before I knew it, it was time to get on the plane to New York. Only, we wouldn’t go directly to New York. First stop was Helsinki, to pick up the third member of our little group. Then on to Frankfurt for transfer to New York JFK. So the trip turned out to be truly multi-lingual, starting in Swedish, then turning Finnish, then German and finally American English.

It was a long journey. Starting early Tuesday morning, we were on the go for 25 hours before finally arriving at our hotel in Manhattan late Tuesday evening. As we got there, we were tired and hungry and I’m not too proud to admit it – we McDonalded. *hangs head in shame*

The city

New York is a big city. Now, I’ve been in big cities before. London is pretty big and Kuala Lumpur is even bigger. But New York is bigger still; its metropolitan area is home to some 18 million people, way more than the combined population of Sweden and Finland.

Two king-size beds? I only really need one, but thanks anyway.

Two king-size beds? I only really need one, but thanks anyway.

New York City has a buzz, a pulse that’s very energetic. That’s not only down to the amount of traffic (which is substantial). It’s something to do with the attitude of the people living there. They are always in a hurry, always on their way somewhere else. But New Yorkers are still friendly people and will help you if you’re lost or have problems with your Metrocard, which is kind of impressive.

We stayed at the hotel Eventi, which was very fancy, with big rooms and great views. In the mornings, we had breakfast in a diner and then took the subway to the conference in Lower Manhattan. It made me feel very metropolitan.

The meeting

The days in New York flew by, the conference ended and suddenly it was Saturday. Amy’s train was due in at Penn Station 9:30 in the morning, and then we were to meet in the lobby of my hotel, which was just a couple of blocks away from the station.

At 9:30 sharp I got a text from Amy: “Am here!!! On my way, maybe 5, 10 minutes?” I told her was going down to the lobby and wait for here there. So there I sat, waiting. I was getting nervous. What if we didn’t have anything to talk about? What if it was going to be all awkward? What if she didn’t like me in real life? Perhaps this was actually a really bad idea? But then suddenly there she was! We smiled, hugged and talked and everything was just fine. No awkwardness at all. So she dropped her stuff off in my room, and out we went to do some New Yorking.

Amy and me as silly bunnies.

Amy and me as silly bunnies.

Now, I’m not going to describe the whole day in this post. Suffice to say that we went to the Central Park Zoo. We had lunch. We did some shopping. We walked all over the place. And we talked and talked and talked. (If you’re interested in a more in-depth account of the day, I’ll refer you to Amy’s posts (yes, that’s ‘posts’ as in plural, because there are several) on the subject: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. She goes into plenty of details on what we did and where we went. Also, she describes it much better than I ever could, being a published author and everything. I whole-heartedly recommend you read them if you haven’t already.)

As I mentioned in the beginning, we’ve been friends for some 16 months. We’ve tweeted a lot. We’ve blogged and commented on each others posts. We’ve even Skyped a couple of times. We just had never met in real life. But as it turned out, that wasn’t really an issue. Real life-Amy is just like online-Amy: funny, quirky, intelligent and kind. She’s generous and friendly and always excited about learning new things. She also seem to genuinely enjoy discussing even the most abstract and odd of subjects. In short: she’s just like the Amy I already knew and loved from the Internet.

No, not ‘online friends’…

So yes, we met online. We’ve got to know each other online. We almost exclusively communicate online. And, until that day in New York at the beginning of March, we’d never met. All of that is true, but I don’t see that as much of a problem. Ok, it’s of course preferable to be able to meet in real life. But who are we to dictate how we’re supposed to meet? Finding friends is a rare thing and finding really good friends is even rarer. I would feel very ungrateful complaining about the medium of our friendship.

Good friends. This picture always makes me smile.

Good friends. This picture always makes me smile.

And actually? The time difference is more of a problem than the online thing. Me being in Finland (GMT+2) and Amy being in USA (GMT-5) means that we’re only awake at the same time for short periods of time each day. This is rather annoying. But it does have the benefit of always having someone to talk to if Baby Boy wakes me up in the middle of the night.

In the end, the simple truth is this: I’m so very lucky to know Amy. And luckier still to be able to call her my friend. Because that’s what we are: good friends.

Plain and simple.

 

* This might sound stalkery, but I can assure you that this is normal online behaviour and not nefarious at all.

** Amy’s dad is convinced that everyone on the internet are cat-fishing female truck drivers.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. 13 March 2013 16:01

    Can I claim some credit for introducing Mr. Anti-social media to Social media, including Tweeting and blogging? And you pwn me on blog followers. For shame.

    Glad you had a good time. 🙂

    Like

  2. 13 March 2013 16:35

    I love this post so much! I am so happy this happened for you guys, and may be a little teary right now. So glad you weren’t a female truck driver, Andreas.

    Like

    • 13 March 2013 19:22

      Aw, thank you! It was the perfect end to an awesome trip!

      (Although I can’t help feeling that female truck drivers get a bad reputation. I’m sure they’re positively charming once you get to know them.)

      Like

  3. 13 March 2013 19:31

    How cool that you got to meet up! I love a happy beginning.

    Like

  4. 13 March 2013 20:01

    I second what Bridget says! So glad it worked out, and (selfishly) that so many great blog posts resulted 🙂

    Like

  5. 13 March 2013 21:19

    Just when I thought I was done reading about Andreas Day (or, I guess, Amy Day), there’s more! Seriously, so happy you guys had such an awesome visit.

    Like

  6. 14 March 2013 00:33

    Aw, Andreas. This made me teary. Thank you so much for this post. I’m going to save it and read it on those days when I really need a pick-me-up.

    Meeting you in person was at-first nervous-making (and I’m so glad you said it was for you, too! If you’d been all confident I would have been even MORE nervous!) but it immediately felt comfortable. Because you’re Andreas. And I feel like I’ve known you forever. And we talk constantly. I think you might know me better than some of my family members, to be honest, at this point.

    If my count is right, this is the seventh time I went to New York City. You know what they say about sevens, right? Sevens are LUCKY. (I’m just as lucky to know you, you know. I’d say luckier, but you’d tell me I was wrong, and I shouldn’t argue with you, that’s rude.)

    And roll your eyes all you want, there was magic in New York City that day. Two people meeting in the sea of people online and making a connection and meeting in person and it’s just as easy as having known them your whole life? Magic.

    Like

    • 14 March 2013 13:33

      I didn’t mean to make you leak water from your eyes, only to tell the tale of my journey, and the meeting with you.

      I was nervous, but, as it turned out, completely unnessearily.

      And yes, if by magic you mean the occurance of statistically improbable events then I can concede to there being some kind of magic.

      Like

  7. 14 March 2013 03:50

    I would call this “When good things happen to good people”.
    Also the description “American English” made me laugh.

    Like

  8. 14 March 2013 15:28

    Don’t be ashamed of McDonald’s consumption! If there was ever a time for eating at McDonald’s it is adjacent to international travel. The preservatives are restorative, that is why one craves it. I loved hearing your side of the story, and that video of Amy made me laugh so hard. Thanks for sharing!!

    Like

    • 14 March 2013 15:50

      (I’m not really ashamed. And I don’t mind the odd McDonalds burger. I just didn’t want to spend my trip to New York eating stuff I can get at home.)

      I love that video of Amy trying Salmiakki! It always makes me smile!

      Like

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