My life seems to be full of countdowns lately. Two days until the premiere of Battlestar Galactica. Five days until classes end. Eight days until my calculus exam. And so on. Now I've just added one more: 36 days until I fly to Ohio to meet someone I know only online.
As someone who spends most of his time online, I've come to know many people whom I've never met in my offline life. Some of them I consider close friends. I'm sure that many people, particularly those in my demographic, interact other the Internet with foreigners all the time. We are a global village, as Marshall McLuhan might say. Still, going to a foreign country (yes, America is a foreign country!) to meet an online friend is a big step. It's increasingly common despite the pervasive fear of Internet predators. I'm not going to meet up with "sparky004m" from a faceless channel on some yuppie IRC network, however. That would probably be asking for trouble. Sorry, sparky.
Lauren and I met on deviantART. I used to be quite active there until school ate up my time and I devoted my writing time to novels instead of short stories. Lauren regularly read one of my offline-friend's submissions. She was impressed by the depth of critique I gave this friend's poetry and asked me to comment on hers. So I read her work, looked at her art, and she reciprocated. Eventually we began to chat via AIM. In many ways, it was much like any other online friendship. We had conversations (sometimes quite long), discussed our lives, compared our countries (go Canada!), and whatnot. Yet through some wonderful sequence of cosmic events, our friendship was deeper than the average online friendship usually is. Lauren's one of my best friends, even though we've never met in person. We just seem to sync.
After a while, we started having audio conversations, and then audio/video conversations, using Skype. (Yes, I'm plugging software. Get over it.) Video chats add a whole new dimension to any online relationship, making conversations seem much more real and sometimes more natural. It was so cool being able to talk to this girl in Ohio as if she were in the same room as me! Plus, it does provide security. Thanks to these conversations, I'm reasonably sure Lauren is not a muscular biker named Doris. If she is, Doris has gone to extreme lengths to create an elaborate deception at my expense, so I applaud her dedication! :D Still, I was somewhat shocked when Lauren invited me to visit her. I got used to the idea quickly, but initially I thought she was joking. We talked about it, and I realized she was quite serious--and the more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea became. Speculation turned quickly into planning, and now the plans are coming to fruition.
There's more excitement to this trip than just the fact that I'll be meeting Lauren for the first time, of course. This will be my second trip on an airplane. I don't get out much. :P My brother and I took a plane to Hamilton, ON once to visit my grandparents, who live in Waterloo. That was several years ago, however; since then, I've never been on a plane. So this will be my first time flying alone, to a foreign country--and I have to catch a connection in Minneapolis. :wacko: Then I'll be spending two weeks in Columbus, OH. This will be a welcome vacation--I don't think I've left the city in two years!
I'm posting this tonight because I bought my tickets tonight. The tickets are non-refundable, so I just passed the point of no return. In 36 days, I'm going to Ohio!
But before that happens, I have lots of planning, shopping, and packing to do. The next month will be filled with lots of preparations for this trip. I'm kind of overwhelmed at the moment because I'm bubbling with excitement. I don't know how much I'll be online while I'm in Columbus. I hope to get my site redesigned before then, but that is a very optimistic hope. Maybe this will provide some more motivation to code quickly. :D Then I can blog about my days in Ohio, from Ohio!