The First Meeting
As I sat on the bus in the dead of night I stared tiredly out of the window, watching the motorway tarmac being eaten up yard by yard. I was on the start of my long journey to see Laurie for the first time. My mind started to drift...during the last 24 hours I had become more anxious. I wanted things to be so right - just for once.
Laurie and I had shared so much in the virtual sense, almost as if things were too perfect between us. We seemed to fill each others gaps, we were on the same wave length. Often we would finish each others sentences during our chat sessions, and we could always sense if either party was feeling a little down that day - even though we were 6000 miles apart. We actually worked it out that the hours we had spent chatting in such a relatively short space of time were equivalent to typical communication between two partners over 4/5 month period. In fact we opened up to each other in such depth, that to have divulged such deep dialogue would have taken a year or so in a physical relationship. However, we constantly reminded ourselves that this was the virtual world, and although everything seemed so perfect between us, we knew that the five senses of touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste could never be substituted by virtuality. The acid test would be a physical meeting, to see if invisible chemistry would be evident.
I arrived at the airport 4 hours early, so I crashed out on the floor in the departures terminal. The flight was uneventful save for the changing of flights at Chicago. On arrival at Dallas, I began to panic a little as I walked up the gang plank to arrivals. There stood Laurie, beaming a smile from ear to ear. We had tried to rehearse this first meeting many times on the web, but all predetermined actions went out of the window and we just hugged and eventually kissed - Laurie was lovely!! Just to be able to touch her was awesome. OK maybe that sounds soppy and sickly, but we all take things for granted in this world, and when it isn't there i.e. to be able to simply "touch" someone, then it becomes a big deal...believe me...
The plan was to stop at a local hotel then take the 3 hour drive back to her house the next day, but after getting lost for about an hour we figured that since it was only late afternoon we would endure the journey. During the drive I asked her to pull over when it was convenient, then I asked her to one day marry me - and on one knee too! (OK all you guys maybe reaching for the sick bucket but I do not care). Oh, Laurie said yes...:0)
My original stay was for 5 days, but after a couple of days we decided that I should try to extend the trip, so I ended up stopping about 10 days. She had taken time off work for the 5 days and was to be at work during the tail end of my stay, but hey...I didn't mind, I needed to get as much of her as I could. It was obvious during my stay that although we were very comfortable with each other we both had fears. For example, I had a fear that she was maybe just convincing herself that her perception of me prior to meeting and then actually meeting me was comparable. We talked about this and she had the same fears. We were both natural worriers it seemed, so we both agreed that time would tell, and we should just go with the flow.
The return trip to the airport as you can imagine was very quiet. I wasn't feeling well anyway. In a strange way, that helped. Being unwell took away some of the focus on emotions that would be there on departure at the airport.
Saying goodbye was extremely gut wrenching, and I got on the plane with a heavy heart. To cheer me up I started to think about all the tasks I was going to do when I got back on English soil, such as start the K1 visa process in London etc. Still unwell, I attempted my usual trick of getting drunk on complimentary red wine to help me sleep and to speed up the process of the arduous journey over the Atlantic... big mistake! I threw up all over the next passenger..:0( everyone (including the passenger) were sympathetic, but still, it looked like I had hemorrhaged due to the red wine!... yuk.
As we came into land, I could see the beautiful British weather out of the window....bloody raining and foggy...I was home.
The Second Visit
OK, to begin with this visit didn't start out too well!...The flight from London was at 0945. It takes approx 2.5 hours from Leicester, so with that in mind, I set my alarm clock for 0430, expecting to go out the door by 0500 - uh oh...didn't happen. I slept thru the alarm! I suddenly woke with a jolt, staring bleary eyed at the clock I could see it was showing 0545...shit.
Jumping out of bed, I shouted to my Bro (who was taking me to the airport). Within 9 mins we were driving out of the courtyard..
By 0601 we were on the motorway heading south, actually we were making good time for the first 30 minutes...then the dreaded happened...roadworks on the M25!!..shit....We arrived at Gatwick at 0905. I said my goodbyes to Bro, reminding him to pick me up in 2 weeks time. Running to check-in, I was so pleased I made it...or so I thought...the lady at the check-in politely told me I'd past the cut off time for check-in!!..shit....So, standing there in the ticket queue, with a face like a wet weekend...my mind started to race... trying to think of an alternative plan. The problem was, was that Laurie didn't know I was coming! She thought it was the following week, and her sister was secretly picking me up at the airport. Man... I'd ruined the surprise big-time :( .
Instead of waiting until the following day for a flight, I decided to fly to Atlanta, then connect to Dallas from there. When I got there however, the flight was delayed for 3 hours! So, there was my plan to arrive at her front door at 6pm to surprise her...but the reality was I arrived at 3am :(..and by that time Laurie had been worried about the absence of her sister to the point of being distraught, so her mum had to eventually tell her that John was coming and that was where her sister was - picking me up! Boy, that will teach me to spring elaborate surprises on people...
Well, this visit had turned out not to be a visit after all! You should see the email my Bro sent me in disbelief when I said I was not returning :0) He has been a great help though, sorting my affairs that end of the world...