Throughout most of August 2017, from the 10th to the 29th, I’ve been flying all over the US. Not for events, not for meetups – but rather to spend time with friends I’ve met online over the years. And I’m so glad I did.
I spend a lot of time online. I learn new things in programming, I watch a lot of TV shows and YouTube. I also spend a lot of time gaming and on Twitch, two activities that are super social and something I’ve come to really appreciate.
I grew up in a world where computers appeared in homes like no tomorrow. When every adult would warn “don’t chat to strangers online” because there was no way to prove who you were talking to. Yet here I am, in 2017, and I could not imagine my life if I hadn’t met the amazing people I know in so many countries around the world.
Here’s the thing though. “Internet friend” and “friend” are one and the same. Whether you start face-to-face and move to chatting on Messenger, or start in an MMO and end up in a car together on a road trip. You started talking because you found the other interesting, or were introduced through a mutual friend. All the amazing people I call my friends are such a big part of my life – I just wish it was easier to visit them often.
So here I am, back from almost 3 weeks of visiting individuals I’ve met online halfway around the world, who also don’t live anywhere near each other either.
Each stop on my US trip this year ended up with around 2 days per person. Not with the goal of visiting cool places – only to spend time with friends. To some extent, it was an experiment – how comfortable is each person with the idea of hanging out with a random Australian they know online, and is 2 days even the right amount?
I’ll be honest. 2 days per stop, over a total of 19 days (including flying to/from Australia, around 20-30 hours each way), is a lot of flying. I don’t think I was prepared for just how much time I would be spending in airports (especially when LA had delayed flights). It’s definitely enough flying for the rest of the year – maybe even until the end of next year. But the amount of fun I had spending a couple days with a person I’ve known for years, over and over again? Absolutely worth it.
There were definitely days that were a little more relaxed than others. Not everyone is able to drop everything in the middle of the week to spend 48 hours with someone. And I wouldn’t want them to. Because that’s not the point. We’re all adults – we all have jobs, we all have other responsibilities. I’m super lucky to even have the budget and the time to be able to do something like this in the first place.
It was very easy for me to figure out which friends would have preferred a shorter visit without them saying anything (now that I’ve visited them), and others that I wish I could spend a week with.
That’s the thing. If visiting these friends was easier, if it didn’t require the planning, costs, and logistics of travel, I probably wouldn’t even need to write this post. My blog isn’t really something I update often. I’m no writer.
The people I spend my time with, whether they’re back in Australia, whether I visited them last time I was here in the US, or whether I still have yet to visit them (because almost 3 weeks away from home is a long time), matter so so much to me. And I guess.. the reason why I wanted to post this in the first place – is that I hope you know that. You, my friend, matter to me, and always will.
Flying out of San Francisco, after my first stop, I already felt the trip was a success. I’m so glad there was even more to it. And I hope I get the chance to do something like this again.