Two years ago today, I made a phone call.
Phil and I met on Twitter in, as best we can establish, early 2011. We followed each other and starred tweets and chatted sometimes, like you Twitter do, and after some months the chatting became more frequent, more habitual. One day I noticed some tweets I particularly liked about a book he loves, and I decided to read the book. I read it, I loved it, and I had a lot of things I wanted to say about it. So I asked if I could email him, and he said yes, he’d love that. We began a correspondence that quickly outgrew the one book and tumbled over into conversations about other books and music and stories about ourselves and what we did and who we were and what we thought about all sorts of things.
That first email grew into hundreds of emails and thousands of words, and after a while that didn’t seem like enough. So we started playing an online game together as well. And then he worried that maybe he was pronouncing my name wrong, so I recorded a short message with a memo app and sent it to him, and he sent one back and we carried on with that for a while. And then a day came when that wasn’t enough either and we wanted to talk to each other and see each other properly. So we set a date and an approximate time and then…
Well, and then I freaked out. Our story is a great story. It’s incredibly romantic and I like telling it. But it’s also our real life, and there is no question that it’s a pretty intense thing to fall in love with someone who lives 6,000 miles away from you. And I know now what I wasn’t entirely aware of yet in that middle of June two years ago: I was already in love. I knew Phil was very important to me. I knew I was important to him. I knew I really wanted to talk to my friend, to see him smile, to find out what a real, natural conversation between us would be like. But I was also afraid to take that step out of the written world and into the real one, because I had no idea what was going to happen after that.
So I was nervous. I was nervous in the days before the appointed date. I was nervous on the morning of the appointed date. I was nervous and taking a walk around the block an hour before the appointed date. I was unbelievably nervous and chewing on my lower lip as I pushed the connect button and waited and waited and waited while Google Hangouts did its distinctive little dialing ring. And then there was Phil, and right away he was so familiar to me, and we were so happy to see each other and hear each other.
That first date lasted six hours, and we didn’t stop grinning at one another the entire time. It’s been two years now, and we still, from time to time, lapse into silent grinning. We are far apart, and he likes to say that we’re playing this relationship on heroic difficulty, but we are happy. We are so lucky. We’ve built a life together in this in-between space, and we’re working and planning for the next stage.
I’m so grateful for that phone call, for this man, for our life. I love you, Phil. You make my face go like this: