36 Hours

For the people who don’t understand internet friendships, or have never experienced one, it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea of someone on the other side of the world impacting you so intensely. I am closer with someone four thousand nine hundred and fives miles away than some people next to me.

Four thousand nine hundred and five.

I love her, and even though a bunch of rivers and valleys separate us, I love them too. This is platonic love. We didn’t meet on purpose, but I think it was fate. A lot of people don’t believe in that stuff, but she taught me to believe everything happens for a reason.

Four thousand nine hundred and five, but it feels like she’s right next to me.

The internet can bring you to some crazy places, like a Tumblr page dedicated to kittens in party hats or a 40-year-old Australian’s vegan food blog. A girl on the other side of the world, rivers and valleys and an ocean separating us, is where it brought me on February 14th, 2014. Her name is, fittingly, Hope. The first time Hope and I had a long, meaningful conversation, I stayed up till 6AM. I can’t tell you what we were talking about exactly, but I can tell you that whatever it was, it was worth my time. She’s always worth it. The conversation ended when she told me it was 12AM in Hawaii; she had to go to church in the morning. Little did I know, I’d spend many more sleep deprived nights just like that one— my eyes fighting to stay open talking to her and both of us holding back fits of laughter trying not to wake my family.

I can’t tell you everything about how our friendship came to be because I am still trying to process how someone so wonderful has come into my life and made me a better person. Even if I could tell you everything, I wouldn’t want to. Hope is like a sister to me, and I want you to understand our friendship is so much more than just a screen.

On August 29, 2015, I got to hug her. Hope got on a plane for me. She got a job to save up money and see me. The whole thing is still so surreal to talk about. I remember weaving myself through the crowded New York City sidewalk when I saw her petite figure waiting for me outside the MoMA. I yelled her name and, before she could even look up, I took off.

“Don’t hurt her!” my mom called out.

The thousands upon thousands of miles that once separated us dwindled. Yards, feet, inches, centimeters- vanished. Before I could even process what was happening, I was in her arms, and she was in mine.

I practically threw myself at Hope. Our embrace was like an off beat waltz; we swayed back and forth. Bystanders’ heads turned at our performance.

“You’re real!” The words that had been on the tip of my tongue for so long finally took shape. It felt like world stopped in that moment; the only thing that continued was my heartbeat. There I was, holding my best friend. I’d waited over a year for that hug. It was worth every second. If I could relive that moment, the only thing I would do differently is not let go. Days, months, and countless sleepless nights had all led me there. That’s where I wanted to be, and it’s still where I want to be.

For the three summer days Hope was at my side, every moment was heartfelt. We wandered museums. Our rhythmic laughter echoed off marble floors and walls filled with artwork, the melody of a nostalgic song. A collection of photos recorded our transient adventures. We held sweaty hands front row at our favorite band’s concert. She got the lead singer’s guitar pick that night, and we cried.

A lot.

You probably don’t believe me, because this story sounds more like a dream. If it all really is just a dream, I hope I never wake up.

Four thousand nine hundred and five.

God must have planned for us to stay apart for a while.