When I was 19 I met a girl online. It was 10 years ago and long before any stories of internet romances had really started to hit the newspapers.
These days it's ever so common. We met in a chat room, and liked what each other had to say. Soon we were exchanging emails, great big long emails, and several of them every day. We got closer and closer. She sent me her poems, and they so struck chords with me that it felt like I was reading my own poetry. I was quite certain I'd found my soul-mate... and wouldn't you have guessed, she lived on the opposite side of the world!!
Well, NY to be precise, but in the UK, that feels like the opposite side of the world, particularly when you want to be with someone who is that far away!
We eventually moved on from emails to phone-calls. She loved my English accent, I loved her American accent. We exchanged photo's and liked what we saw (which let's face it isn't the way it usally goes!) and decided it was definitely meant to be - we had to meet.
We were both 19, I was at university, so it was a little tough to scrape the cash together, but I did, and my dad rather helpfully gave me an extra $1000 to use in case of emergency... it came in handy!
It was a very odd thing for me to do really, jetting off alone like that. I'd had a lifelong phobia of being isolated from people I knew, though I believed at the time that I was over it. So off I went.
She met me at the airport with her mom. I was looking for the girl in the photo's, but had been warned to look down, because she was apparently even shorter than she looked in them... boy, she wasn't kidding! But I got over that shock. She had the most incredible hair, masses and masses of dark curls, gorgeous, and there was an instant two-way physical attraction between us.
We lied to her mom and said I was staying in the city with an uncle, while I was actually staying at the girl's place. I'd use her name but it was a very specific name, one her mother effectively made up, so I'll keep quiet on that little detail!
We seemed to get on straight away. Her apartment was alright, basically a large room with a seperate WC and shower. We hit the sheets, and one thing to lead to another... I'm trying to avoid needing to mark this entry as over-18 rated! In actual fact we didn't get very far. I don't know what happened, she just stopped, and we put the TV on instead!
That's when the craziness began.
We were still clothed, and on top of the covers at this stage. Her TV was at the end of the bed, so we were lying on the bed with our feet at the pillow end. Suddenly she spins round and -freaks out- because my feet are touching the pillow! She was angry, and got up and changed the pillow-case!
Somehow I survived the night, and was blessed that her employer had refused to give her time off work, so she went out and left me at her place. I decided to let the experience of the night before slide. One wall of her apartment, a very large wall, was absolutely covered with little bits of paper on which she had written things, quotes, poems, doodles, all sorts. It was amazing, inspired.
I only lasted a couple more days before she got more and more angry over hygiene issues that didn't exist. She brushed her teeth every hour, but happily shared a lollipop with a friend she introduced me to! Duh!
So eventually I hit the streets. Before I left, I ordered her a bunch of red roses, with one white, and a note that read something along the lines of "In every crowd there's one who stands out from all the rest", because although it hadn't worked out - at all - I really had so much awe for her creative spirit. She was an amazing human being.
I caught a train into the city, and then BLAM, I had a massive panic attack! Smack bang in the middle of NYC with no place to go, no place to stay, and no-one to turn to. It might as well have been Mars! I don't know quite how I held it together, but I did.
I found the Big Apple Youth Hostel in Times Square and booked in for the rest of my two-week stay. I didn't get the coins at the time though, so I only spent notes and pocketed the change. By the last day I had so much change I could barely lift it - I spent all my emergency fund!
The amazing thing I found in NYC was that beggars were incredibly polite compared to British beggars. So I wanted to give something back to all these friendly homeless people, and struggled onto the streets with my change... and wouldn't you know it, they'd all disappeared! Eventually, after 2 hours walking when I'd given up hope, ONE guy came up to me with a McDonald's cup, and I just said, "Hope you've got a large there buddy!" and gave him the lot. It was really funny, and he seemed to think so too!
I blew the last of my cash on a limo to take me back to the airport. When I got home and emailed her, she wanted nothing to do with me, and that was the end of that. Well, till I fell in love with this other girl... but that's another story! ;o)