As the plane touched down in a land covered by green and water, my stomach knotted. Finally, after over two years of late night conversations filled with confessions and laughter, I was meeting my friend.
Nervously, I chatted to my seat mate. "Yeah, we've never met but I'm spending four days with her and her family. It's like online dating without the romance."
She, this woman who didn't know my name, looked at me skeptically. "Do you have a contingency plan?"
I laughed as the butterflies started turning loops.
The loops continued as the doors opened and I stood to leave the plane. I walked through a strange airport, my mind fuzzy from Dramamine and long term insomnia. I collected my baggage and received a text.
"I'm in a bright red minivan. I'll be there in five minutes."
I walked outside into the crisp New England air. My ears were assaulted after hours with the hum of a jet engine. Around me cars screamed, cabs screeched, buses huffed. I saw the red mini van start to pull up. Behind the driver's seat was the woman who'd been my friend through some of the darkest days of my life. I smiled and waved.
She pulled in, jumped out, gave me a hug and a smile while ushering me into my seat. And then, in seconds, we were zagging around cars.
We exchanged small talk while trees and building rushed past. The Charles River winded around the freeway while brick buildings made a canyon of the road. We picked up our Skype conversation as the brick and mortar gave way to trees and cattails.
We pulled into her home, her porch flanked by clumps of purple and pink hydrangeas, their color brilliant among the green. We walked in and I met her son. His shy smile and frank speech reflected the little New Englander he is. I smiled, charmed. I met her husband, a big man with a deep voice and easy way. I shook his hand understanding how they matched.
I settled down in her kitchen at the island. I tucked my feet on the rung of the stool and accepted a glass of water with the realization that this was a perfect moment. This was just how I imagined it would be. The sink was flanked by herbs and ruled by a window sporting cheery curtains. The dogs nosed my knees. Dinner warmed in the oven filling the air with the smell of cheese and pasta.
I listened to her talk about the constant remodeling, point out the spot here that needed paint, the spot there that needed repaired. The whole while, I felt myself relax. This was a home filled with love and laughter, nails and paint, warmth and welcome.
The vision my friend shared with me painted a classic New England home true to its 1920s roots. I wanted to tell her I couldn't wait to see it, but knew, deep down, that my next visit might be a while.
We drank wine and talked of writing and books and people we both knew. We spoke about politics and food. We talked until the clock struck midnight and she told me she was putting me to bed. She knows I don't sleep well.
I climbed the stairs and put on my pajamas. I lay on a mattress topped with pink sheets and a pink down comforter. I turned off the lamp and closed my eyes. Relaxing to the sound of silence and the knowledge I was utterly and completely safe, I snuggled deeper into my covers.
And I slept.
12 hours ago