By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
A couple of weekends ago I had a friend visiting for the weekend. Normally this would not be so unusual, except she was visiting me from Glasgow, Scotland. And I had never seen her in real life before.
My friend and I met online in early 2010 when I started taking part in an online discussion forum dedicated to the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell?s North and South (not to be confused with the Civil War series starring Patrick Swayze). Earlier this year she was planning a trip to the U.S. and asked if she could swing by Iowa to visit me. When we started planning the trip in March, September seemed like a lifetime away. Before I knew it, though, I was heading to the airport in Burlington to pick her up.
I was a little nervous that there would be an awkward silence when we first met. As we had only interacted online, I was worried that we would not get along in real life. I imagined us making the drive back from Burlington in silence, struggling for some sort of small talk.
My fears were unfounded, though. From that first hello hug in the miniscule airport (she hugs a lot, I?m guessing it?s a European thing) we got along instantly. I didn?t feel as though I was meeting her for the first time. Rather, I felt like I was being reunited with an old friend. We chatted incessantly ? what she would refer to as a ?blether? ? and didn?t stop until about six hours later, when we realized we should probably get to sleep as it was 1:30 a.m.
We only had one definite plan for the weekend ?going to Milton. Now, from my experience telling people this, I?ve learned that this requires a bit of explanation. North and South is set in Milton, England (a fictional city). So, when we were planning the trip in March, I had promised her I?d take her to Milton. On Friday night we debated about whether to go on Saturday or Sunday, finally choosing Saturday morning to make the trip.
The timing could not have been more perfect.
It turns out that Saturday, Sept. 10 was the day of the 2011 Milton Fun Fest. There was live music, carnival games, bouncy temts, face painting and craft tables. For some reason my friend was really amused by the concession trailer she referred to as the Pepsi truck. We wanted to take a ride on The Happy Train, but we thought that $2 was a bit costly for a simple ride around the block on a kiddie train. Plus, we thought that we may have been a bit too old as most of the passengers were around four.
So, what was going to be a quick, five-minute trip into Milton turned into a couple of hours spent celebrating with the locals. We even have the matching souvenir t-shirts to prove it, which we wore the rest of the afternoon. We changed before heading out for supper, or tea as she called it.
Sunday morning I took her to see the Mississippi River. She had never been in the Midwest before, so I figured it was necessary. We then spent the afternoon watching North and South. From our online discussions, we already had a lot of inside jokes on the series, and it was great watching it with somebody who knew it as well as I do.
Monday morning came way too early ? literally, as we woke up at 3:30 a.m. in order to get her to the airport in time. We got to the airport at about 5 a.m. and we hugged goodbye in the same spot we had met just 57 1/2 hours before.
Her visit seemed way too short and later Monday morning I was completely exhausted. It was worth it, though. It was an awesome weekend. I almost typed that it was a once in a lifetime experience, but I hope that?s not the case. Whether in Scotland or the U.S., I hope we get the chance to meet again so we can have a good blether.