I missed a very imporant anniversary earlier this year.
April 6, 2003, a date I couldn't remember, but a day I will never forget.
It was the day the stars aligned and I met two of the most important people in my life. Mike and Lesley.
Yeah, I'm going to get mushy, so if you don't want read any more, buzz off. (And I mean that in the nicest way possible)
It was kind of a miserable day outside, chilly and a bit damp in Massachusetts, but a fellow by the name of "Blackstone Val" was running a meet in Uxbridge, MA for geocachers. I decided to go, since I was pretty new to geocaching and didn't have a freakin' clue what to do with my GPS. Michael decided to stay home and continue on with his job hunt, geocaching being a "Cookies thing" so I headed out on my own.
I distinctly remember roaring into the visitors' center in my old Grand Marquis. I was running a bit late and I hate being late. I pulled in next to a little VW and as I was getting out, so were the couple in the VW next to me. I gave the female half what I hoped was a fairly friendly smile despite how harried I was feeling and made tracks to the center, where attendees were being given a lecture on how to use a compass. And I thought, "Jeez, have I made a huge mistake? A compass seems kind of low tech. Am I in the wrong place?"
And at the very moment I was considering cutting and running, Lesley strolled over to me, looking as confused as I felt and said, "Is this the geomeet?" and I think I replied with, "I thought so, but they seem to be using compasses."
So we hung around for a while listening and then eventually the coordinators handed out some worksheets with some instructions for where to find caches, but I think you were supposed to use the compass to find them, not the GPS. Well, it was now or never, sink or swim, fish or cut bait.
I had come to the meet hoping to meet people. First of all, geocaching is a lot of fun, but I don't like going myself. I got lost in the woods once for an hour and a half while geocaching solo, and I was so freaked out that I was like, "Uh, never again." Secondly, New Englanders are famously stoic and reserved and it's very difficult to meet people there. Sure, I knew Michael's family and a couple of his friends, but other than that, the only people I knew were people from work. So as the party was breaking up and everyone was heading out to find the caches, I knew I had not come to stomp the marshes of Uxbridge solo. So, having already exchanged 14 words between us, and them looking as lost as I felt, I screwed up my courage, stepped out of my happy little shell, and asked if they'd mind if I hung out with them.
Happily, the answer was yes, they would be happy to have me along. And we spent the afternoon together, having fun, finding stuff with a compass, being fairly grossed out by the dead fish, making jokes about the PCPs in the water, etc. And Mike snapped the above picture of Lesley and me standing near one of the polluted streams. :-)
We exchanged emails and AIM names and said farewell.
When I got home that night, I couldn't stop talking about them. I was so excited to have made some friends after 3 years. We all got in touch again via AIM and three weeks later, they travelled to Acton so we could go geocaching again, this time in the pouring rain for hours. Then they came over to our place to meet Michael. The date was April 26th.
It turned out we all had a whole lot in common and spent that time traveling between Acton and Providence and other exotic ports of call. My two favorites were Rockport, where we had 17 dollar lobsters at the Lobster Pool restaurant and Plymouth, where we inadvertantly had lunch in a restaurant my grandparents had taken me to when they had taken my sister and I to Boston as teenagers. The drinks were not free refills and the 2 Mikes were going through soda like, well, water, and the tab was nice and hefty when we finished up. We still laugh about finding a place with free refills when we go out together.
(Can you guess from this picture who are the Yankees and who's from down south?)
Well, we moved to Virginia shortly thereafter, and then Mike and Lesley moved to North Carolina and then again to Atlanta. The days when we were but an hour apart... Maybe someday...
But it's been a hell of a five years for all of us since we first met. And they have made the bad times not seem so bad and the good times seem even better.
Lauren recently blogged about how it sucks that her best friend is so far away and how it's hard to not have any close girlfriends and it got me to thinking about just how much I miss having Mike and Lesley nearby. Lesley gave me someone to share my love of England and high tea with, the two Mikes can share their love of the 99 Restaurant and chicken wings. Lesley and I read, the two Mikes do computer stuff. And I will always remember Mike W. as being the one guy who loved that Grand Marquis as much as I did.
Just wanted to say "Thanks" publicly. You guys are the best. Can't wait till we get together again soon. Miss you and love you both.
4 days ago