Archive for August, 2009

Childhood V – Pets

dead_fish1Pets, pets, and more pets! If there was anything that any little kid would be obsessed about, it would be animals. I mean, who could ignore those cute little things? Remember going to the petting zoo when you were little? There was one right by my house at a farm a couple of blocks away. If there is something that I loved about childhood, it was definitely getting to be around animals. Stroking their nice, soft fur, watching them play around in their pens, there’s no doubt why most little kids wanted to have a pet growing up. Especially because of all of those cartoons with talking animals doing “people things”,  little kids might imagine that maybe an animal would actually play with them– like a human would. After growing up with the Bernstein Bears or reading Corduroy, I actually thought that a bear would be… fun! I felt like I could hug an actual bear, maybe cuddle with one to get me to sleep at night. But it turns out that if you try it might rip your arms off or eat you alive.  I remember our family never managed to get a pet because of family members having allergies. Whenever the chance came up, I would repeatedly ask my parents to get me a dog just like our neighbors, or a hamster, just like the house down the street. At such an early age, of course parents would decline the request because kids aren’t that responsible to feed, walk, and care for an animal. My first pet, and probably everyone else, was a fish. Just a small little sliver of a fish that would swim around in such a tiny glass bowl.  They were so easy to get around! I remember getting it at Walgreen’s for a dollar. Don’t you remember getting them at the carnival? You had to throw that little plastic ball into the hole and the guy would give you this little fish and you had no idea what to do with it. Just like a toy, you would watch it swim around for a while, and the next thing you know, you are completely neglecting the animal. It’s the same cycle over and over again:
Step 1:
Fish holds your attention. You are very attached to the animal, feeding it once a day just like your mommy told you. You keep the bowl adequately clean. This usually lasts one to three days.
Step 2:
Fish holds your attention slightly. You forget to feed it every once in a while. The glass bowl starts to get green and the pebbles on the bottom are slightly discolored. This usually lasts two to four days.
Step 3:
Fish barely holds attention. You completely ignore the fish, feeding it only when you have nothing else to do, so it is basically surviving by eating its own feces (Eww). The glass bowl is completely green, you can not see a thing through the glass. This step usually lasts three to five days.
Step 4:
“Mommy! Look at my fish, he’s sleeping!” “Sorry hun, I think it’s dead”.
How tragic.
Well, at least Mr. Toilet is happy…

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Edited By Mark Savin

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Don’t You Just Hate That? – Sneezing

Bang! Pow! Kaboom!
You tap the buttons on your video game controller repeatedly. You just have to defeat this one last enemy to beat the entire game. The lights in the room are turned way down low, the blinds are completely down, blocking out any little bits of sunshine that just want to crawl in the room. Time goes by quickly. It is already your fifth time trying at this monster and you haven’t realized that you had just wasted three hours that your mother said you should use to get ready for the picnic with your relatives who are coming over in three minutes.
Mom walks in, taps your shoulder and tells you to come out from your little dark cave and freshen up for the guests. You weakly get up; your feet are already falling asleep. A car honks outside; it’s your relatives and you haven’t seen them in months. You walk over towards the door. The sun is blazing down on you, not a cloud in the sky. You don’t realize exactly how bright it is until you make it out the door.
You feel the slightest tickle in the back of your nose. It grows and grows and you start to feel it is getting harder and harder to breathe. Right when your Uncle Eugene sticks out his hand to greet you, that little irritation blows up right then and there.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
You explode into a orchestra of sneezes. One after another, that little tickle drops bombs of mucus and saliva out of the opening in your mouth, as if it had the power to blow up an entire building. Well, not exactly that kind of power. You wouldn’t go on an airplane and say, “Nobody move! Don’t make me use my all-powerful sneeze and blow this plane to bits of pieces!” But don’t you just hate that? And right in front of a whole festival of people!  They repeat “Bless you!” after each bomb explodes from the back of your throat. You are at the point where you are suffocating and bending down on the grass outside trying to get the last sneeze out. It’s as if you are having a mental breakdown, kneeling down with hands in the grass, just sneezing into the Earth and yelling, “MAKE IT STOP!!! ACHOOOO!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!” Well, maybe sneezes aren’t that dramatic, but that is exactly what is going on in your head when the sneezes attack. You might have to make a mental note not to jump into the sunlight that quickly next time.

Did You Know?
1. Sneezing can also be caused by sexual arousal, thinking of sex, and having an orgasm.
2.
If you have a rare genetic disorder called “Snatiation”, you’ll sneeze after eating a big meal.
3.
It’s against the law to sneeze in a church in Nebraska, USA.

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Edited By Mark Savin

Childhood IV – Responsibilities

Job, school, work, homework, friends, making your own plans, following directions; these are all responsibilities one assumes as they grow up. When you’re a little tike, you may have a few responsibilities, such as following the ‘golden rule.’ Or perhaps you have to apologize to someone for stepping on their foot. Adults try to give a couple of responsibilities to start out with in order to shape you up for balancing even more. They hope that these will form you into a more responsible person when you get older. For example, they encourage you to be responsible for your language.

“Remember when you were in kindergarten and the teachers always told you to be polite? They would always to tell you that you should never call anyone in the classroom “weird” or “stupid”. This little lesson, they hoped, would help you grow up profanity free and become a polite adult” (Clonez, 4/11/09).

It really wasn’t a big deal at the time, but as you grow older, you are held a lot more responsible, like contributing to society by having a job or paying attention in school, which means you are obligated to do homework, and if you don’t, that teacher will hold you responsible and punish you with a bad grade.

Personally, I am a quite responsible person. I’m not old enough to have a job yet, but I go to school, I learn, I get outstanding grades, but that’s pretty much the extent of it. I’m very forgetful when it comes to doing things around the house, which makes my mom mad. She punishes me by taking things away, to try to make me more responsible.

There are ways that parents try and use what you love against you to make you more responsible. Although this may sound a little confusing at first, it really is pretty simple. For me, I just love to cook in the house on my own. No matter what dish I may be making, there is always a mess to clean up afterward. Parents try to shape you correctly from the start by using your favorite activities to make you responsible. My parents use to always tell me to clean up after cooking, and that is what I’ve started to do, even without them telling me.

As a 14 year old, I’m also responsible for making friends and coming up with my own plans, which I am not good at, at all. I get really anxious when it comes to making friends, so I don’t have any. I just have five or so really close friends who I do things with. However, most of the time I am just at home. None of my friends feel like doing anything, which leads me to have to make my own fun. I’m bad at that too. If I have no one to talk to, I just turn into a vegetable and watch TV until one of my friends becomes available. Not fun. At all.

Connor

Edited By Mark Savin


Childhood III – Height

footYou hold on to your mother’s hand while crossing the street in the city. You hold on for your life; it’s like clinging on to a vine that will keep you suspended from the dangers below.  It is the only thing that separates you from safety and the dangers of the outside world: the cars on the road and the hundreds of strangers around you. It really isn’t that easy being such an age. Because you are so short, it forces you to look up to everyone and everything. It is even more frightening from below. The city is like a rainforest. The emergent layer (the older adults) walk through life knowing that they have nothing to worry about; the sun is shining on them, it is nice to feel tall and in power. They are headed of to their high paying jobs at large businesses. The canopy layer (the younger adults) aren’t that high up in society, but they have an idea of where they are heading to. The understory layer (the teenagers) are looking for a direction to head in, they still have enough freedom to wander the forest alone. And finally, there is the forest floor (the children) the darkest, scariest layer where young ones are forced into the lowest rung of society and have to look up to everyone else from the floor. It really is a no-brainer why children love to crawl on the floor in public places. They know they are at the bottom of the ladder, so why not have fun while you can before heading into all the dangers of climbing up? Most people don’t realize it, but the floor is a big part of what makes a child a child. The floor is where they play with blocks, dolls, and other toys, while grown men would huddle around a table to play a card game. The floor is where they learn; like first learning how to walk in early childhood, while people of older age sit in hard, cold desks. The floor is where they have story time, while adults sit in chairs to read. Why would someone at such an age want to use a chair? I remember at school assemblies, they always had the preschoolers sit on the floor while the older kids sat on the bleachers. Remember when you had to sit pretzel-style on the floor? I remember being so excited to sit like that with the other kids. Now that I am older, I am no longer flexible enough to do that again. In music class all the kids would sit pretzel-style and the teacher would just sit in a chair on the outside and instruct everyone. The teacher was always higher than the student. Even now when we have to sit in a chair, the teacher just stands up to instruct. Anyway, when you are young you have your own position in society. Of course you may not like it, or even realize it at the time on account of how much fun it was to sit on the nice, comfy carpet, but it sticks with you, and changes as you get older and more mature.

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Edited By Mark Savin

Aftermath

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One of the many places we went.

I am so surprised to be making it to such a day where I am alone in the blogging world with no one to lean upon for help or advice. It is such a strange feeling. It is like being stranded on a deserted island with nothing to do but write. All you can do is hope that there is someone out there who is listening. God, perhaps? I am now in such a world where I am not judged on the way that I write; the way that I express my feelings because everyone is gone. Everyone has quit or has just faded away ever so slowly. Then again, I have quit in a way. I now do not feel such a motivation to write, but I still continue to do so– every once in a while. I now do not feel that same pressure to complete some post by the end of the week or something like that. I am my own boss, I am the all powerful Clonez.

How do I begin to talk about Club Penguin? Well, my membership has just run out and I do not feel that same urge to renew it as I used to when I received peer pressure from my friends online. I am alone once again. It seems very complicated to talk about because it seems as though a year or two ago I was urging others to not give up; to keep on fighting strong till the end– whenever that was. I realize now that special spirit is over. It has been over for quite some time now. Ever since the beginning of 2009 I haven’t felt the same way making posts about Club Penguin. I had started to shift to other topics. Most people who read them felt disgusted in a way. They had wanted my to give them more Club Penguin news, but I had a feeling deep in my heart that this wasn’t meant to be and I was afraid to let that feeling out until now. I do enjoy talking about life and topics that interest me, like my series of posts on advertising. There has only been one person who had pushed me to write for what I believed in; everyone else who worked on the site was concerned about getting more views and comments on posts and so they tried to steer me to talking about Club Penguin. The one person who pushed me to write with freedom was Connor.

Connor and I have finally made it up to that point in our friendship in which we met in person, face-to-face, for a whole week. In case you were wondering, yes, Connor and I are going to tell you about that time he came. Because this is a real life experience, I decided that it would just be the perfect opportunity to actually use my real name in this post. My name is Michael. It’s nice to meet you 😉 .

SUNDAY, AUGUST 2

Connor: I woke up at 7:05 am, much too early to talk to Michael before I departed for Raleigh-Durham Airport. So I got up, took a quick shower, got dressed, and the three other members of my family and I were on our way to Raleigh, which is about a 2 hour drive from where I live. I was really starting to feel nervous about flying by myself for the first time and navigating through the airport all by my lonesome. I was also a little nervous about Michael’s two sisters. But not as much as traveling. My family and I stopped at McDonald’s about halfway there, because we had to eat breakfast. This is when Michael called me on my cell. He was uber excited for later… and I was too. I couldn’t stick around and chat though, because my hands were otherwise engaged with a sausage biscuit, orange juice, and a hashbrown. A little while later, I arrived at the airport. My family went with me to security, where my dad had to get a special pass to go to the gate with me, since I’m a minor. There, he dropped me off to wait for my flight. I talked to Michael until we boarded. I got on the plane, picked a seat, put my bags in the overhead bin, and buckled my seat belt. And then, I was in the air. Flying into the unknown.

Michael: Wow, what a day! I remember talking to Connor the night before and we were joking about how it would take us a while to get to sleep the night before the visit. For me, I slept like a baby and I woke up feeling refreshed. I was a little nervous the time and I kept thinking that maybe something will go wrong. I’ve heard many cases where bad things happen to people who meet online, but I felt this visit would differ from previous ones, since we had been web camming for at least half a year and it seemed as though there was nothing left to hide since we had spilled all our secrets to each other. My dad and I brought the dogs along for the ride. There was a ton of traffic, but we made it on time.  The dogs were pretty tired from the long ride by the time we arrived. I remember seeing Connor standing at the drop-off area. I recognized him almost immediately, and I thought in my head, “Oh my gosh, there he is!” The kid I had talked to all this time was right before me. It was so weird not to see that camera box around Connor, I had gotten so used to it.

Connor: I got off the plane, called Michael up to see where he and his dad were waiting for me. Michael replied, “there’s traffic, we’ll be there in 10 minutes.” And I said, “okay. It’ll take me time to get off this plane anyway. See you soon.” I eventually got off the plane, and I grabbed my backpack and my duffel bag and raced through Concourse B of Midway Airport. I got out at exit 2 LL where all the taxis were. I called Michael and asked which road lane he’d pick me up at. He said the outside lane, so I started my way over there. I stopped in the median against a big concrete pillar. He said to look for a black Mercedes, so I was looking at all the cars. And then I see a black sedan pull up a lane away. I look through the darkly tinted windows and I see a clean-cut boy in an orange shirt… who looked awfully familiar.. and we made eye contact. And I saw his eyes instantly grow in size. I raced over to the car where he popped out and gave me a big ol’ hug. I put my bags in the trunk and got in. There, I shook his dad’s hand and just took everything in.

Michael: We left the airport to go back to my home-sweet-home. We were very quiet in the car at first because I am guessing that he too was a little scared to start-up a conversation at first. For me it was because I was so used to hiding our conversations on the phone, which is why we would always talk on the cell when our parents weren’t around. I noticed Connor was petting Chewy (one of my dogs) most of the time. We giggled at some of the billboards that went by. Even I hadn’t seen so many: one after the other. I pointed out some things along the way that I had talked about on web cam. I remember showing him my room at first. We got up the stairs and I closed my door and said something like, “this is what you’ve waited to see in person.” I just wanted to set the mood because I would be totally amazed myself in that place. Anyway, I showed him my room for a bit and we left to go have lunch at Einstein Bagels and later we went downtown to see an art fair. It was so weird walking around with Connor downtown because I felt like most of the time I would have to just leave him in my room and go by myself and later talk to him on the cell when I left to go somewhere. Anyway, the art fair was amazing and it was so much fun to look at art together. It was very crowded though, but we managed to see a lot.

Connor: In the car, I was quiet because I was definitely scared. I didn’t want to say anything that may repel Michael away, or something Michael’s dad might find crude, etc. So I played it cool with small talk and I felt like I had to do something with myself, and that is why I stroked Chewy the way home. I was so scared. Then we got home. I was really turned around because row after row of townhouses and garages, I just got so lost. But we eventually pulled up to number 2212 and I entered his house through the garage. The first thing I saw was Michael’s younger sister, Emily, staring at me like, “who the heck are you?” so that made me kind of uncomfortable. Michael showed me around his house, and then we retreated upstairs to look at his room and to drop off my bags. What I saw amazed me. Everything was so vivid, much more so than on web cam, and it was just so weird to be IN his room finally. After being in his room for around 15 minutes, we went to Einsteins. I just got a plain bagel with shmear (lol) and then we ate. Afterward, with Michael, his dad, his two sisters, and I went to downtown Chicago for the art fair. It was such an alien feeling for me as well because I was so used to just staying at my house while he went somewhere and then hearing about it five hours later. But I was actually THERE *with* him. I wasn’t hearing the story, I was part of the story. And that was amazing. I got to do something with Michael for the first time.

Michael: We went back home after the art fair and settled down for a bit. I showed Connor some of the books on my shelf. We looked through a book by The Onion and I watched him laugh at that. I also showed him a spoof on Sky Mall, since he had just seen it on the airplane, I figured, why not? We all went to a pancake house for dinner. There was this one fly that kept flying around our table, it was hilarious how it would not leave. My dad and I joked about the fat person sitting at the booth next to ours, like we always do… good times, good times… we came back to see some of the movies that Connor had brought on his trip: The Onion Movie and Date Movie. They were hilarious and we had a fun time watching them. It was very late by the time the movies ended. We “freshened up” and went to bed. I was glad that I didn’t have to leave Connor hanging on camera and instead be able to talk to him during the night.

MONDAY, AUGUST 3

Connor: One of my favorite things to do is to go to Starbucks and get my favorite drink, vanilla bean frappucino. So I thought, well…. why not have Michael try Starbucks too! We walked from his house to a close-by strip mall with a Starbucks. I’ve told him a lot about Chai Tea lately, so he ordered that, along with a breakfast sandwich. I ordered a vanilla bean, of course. We sat down at a little table and drank/ate/talked. And then… it started downpour outside, so we were stuck there! Eventually it let down and we decided to go to a park instead of going back home.

Michael: The park was all mucky and wet from the rain, but we kept on walking anyway. I showed Connor my middle school and told him about some of the memories I had there. I showed him the deadly playground in the back and the gymnasium. It was new to me too, because so much had changed since I last went in the building. I looked into my old drama and art room to see it completely changed. We walked through the park center and I took him to the top of the hill in the park where there is a suspended little hut in the middle of the lake. I showed him the graffiti and we laughed at some of the messages people wrote on the hut. It started to downpour again and we kept on running together, screaming, “must… escape… the rain!!!” We hid under another building until it settled down. My grandparents picked us up and drove us to a mall with a bookstore. I knew it was the one place we could go that I could talk to Connor in because I knew he loved reading. We spent a while there and tried on some animal puppets in the kids section, we laughed at the humor section, took pictures together, and looked at the calendars. We both were getting hungry and so we headed over towards Panda Express for lunch.

Connor: After eating some Chinese food, we called Michael’s grandparents, but they couldn’t pick us up yet, so we went on over to a plant nursery and looked at all the exotic plants they had to offer. I took so many pictures while we were there, it’s unbelievable. We even did some tree hugging. (And more!) After walking around there for a while, and almost bumping our heads into a huge carnivorous plant, we finally got picked up. We went home, where one of Michael’s friends, Trevor, had been waiting for us. A girl who goes to Michael’s school, named Kathy, wanted to meet me, so we set up a time and place. Two o’clock at a small ice cream place like a mile away… I’ll let Michael talk about that… he was pretty peeved.

Michael: I really didn’t know what I was getting Connor into, because this was his first time riding a bike in so long! I  had a different perception on what a “short” and “long” distance was because I use my bike quite often and Connor had not ridden one before in a while. Anyway, Kathy didn’t sound like she was going to show up at all, and we were halfway towards the ice cream place. It was hot outside and windy, and so I got really upset that I had to drag Connor into this. I just ended up showing him the downtown area. We went to a candy shop and tried a few samples. Trevor made a train blow its horn by doing a motion with his hand. After waiting there for a half hour, it seemed as though we had given Kathy enough time to get over there. We decided to just leave, for I had other things to get to with Connor. Kathy called me when we finally got back home, swearing in my ear for leaving the ice cream bar. I really did not want to wait there any longer because of the awful weather. Also, I was really ticked off because Nick was not home when he said he would be the day before and Trevor lied when he said he had pool passes to get us in. We ended up going to my Grandparents’ pool. I was begging for them to drive us over there because of that bad biking trip we had just faced; Connor was out of breath. The pool was cold at first, but I got used to it. I knew I wasn’t going to wait out the whole time. Connor decided to sit out, so I tossed a pair of goggles back and forth with my sister. I had prune fingers, but I was fine. My grandma brought down some cookies from the concierge desk at the motel. We both agree, they were the best cookies ever!

Connor: The pool was soooo cold. Plus I’m kinda uncomfortable with my body, well, I was at the time, until I noticed something about Michael after he got out of the pool. I won’t say what though, since it’s really personal. But that one thing I noticed led me to trust Michael and so I showed him something no one else has seen. But that will remain a mystery to you, the reader, as it is also personal. Immediately after the pool, though, we went back up to Michael’s grandparents’ hotel room and all three of us changed back into clothes. Then we went back to the house. Michael and I showered and got all comfy in our pajamas.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 4

Michael: Connor and I went to Starbucks again. After trying that delicious vanilla bean Frappuccino that Connor gave to me, I was just so excited to try any other thing that he ordered, knowing he had the same taste as me. We both ordered a double chocolatey chip Frappuccino. I never realized how good the drinks were at Starbucks, since I never ordered a single beverage from the menu. I am really against any kind of coffee, and so I was a little scared to try it at first. Connor and I went to the Botanic Gardens with my younger sister and grandparents. We took so many photos of our adventure there. I just had to show him the fruit and vegetable garden. There was a really sweet aroma in the air from the garlic patch area. I just didn’t want to leave that area. We saw pear trees and apple trees; Connor loved looking at the pepper garden they had since he recognizes it from the spicy dishes he makes at home. We also saw the bonsai garden, waterfall garden, and the Japanese garden. We went back to the garden restaurant to meet back up with my family and have lunch. Connor and I split a ten dollar cheeseburger and a two dollar cookie. I don’t think it was worth it though because the prices were just so high. It was still fun to share food.

Connor: After having a ton of fun looking at that wonderful vegetation, Michael, Emily, and I (along with Michael’s grandparents, of course) went to a dog park with Michael’s dogs, Chewy and Indy. I’m not sure what Indy and Emily did, but I do know that Chewy, Michael, and I went to the very back of the dog park where the grass is long and trees made shade, where we all sat down and hung out. Trevor called us while we were there, and I talked to him. After, oh, I don’t know, half hour or so, it was time to go home. Chewy got extremely vicious around the other dogs at the park, so that really made us go early. But that’s okay. In the car ride home, Emily and Michael’s Grandpa got in a little argument because Chewy was blocking Emily’s seat belt buckle and Grampy wouldn’t budge the car until everyone was buckled in, so we sat there a while until Chewy moved. Also, Indy was standing on Michael’s “family jewels” so naturally, Michael was like OWWW the whole way home. I felt so bad for Mr. Happy’s friends. When we got home, Michael and I just showered early and had dinner. Afterward, we just had to watch a movie! And then we got to bed.

Michael: The ride home from the dog park was pretty harsh for me. I had to sit in the middle seat with Indy’s butt in my face. Connor and I were laughing the whole time because I held up a plastic bag to his butt so that I wouldn’t have to look at it. We had beef stew for dinner that night. My grandma asked me and Connor to set the table, so we put out the forks, knives, plates, and napkins for everyone. She then threw a fit because we did not properly place the utensils in the correct spot. Dinner wasn’t that great. My grandma always makes beef stew the wrong way every single time, and I used to keep telling her how to make it like my mom does. The sauce was 99% water, there wasn’t that much flavor, and not much was prepared. I tried out Connor’s way of eating by squirting on some tabasco. We both thought it was delicious afterwords.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5

Connor: On Wednesday, Michael and I woke up, and I had a hankering to try something HE liked instead of him trying everything that I like, and I knew he liked the breakfast sandwiches at Dunkin Donuts. We rode our bike there and we ate. I got orange juice for the drink (I drink soooo much OJ, ask anyone that knows me.) and Michael got milk, since he drinks a ton of milk just like I drink OJ. We got kind of the same sandwich except I had mine on a croissant and he got it on a bagel. Afterwards, Michael called Nick to see if we could come over. Nick said a little later. To waste time, Michael and I went to the Walgreens near his house. Michael and I tried on big girl glasses and reading glasses, and I kept finding shirts for Michael to put on. He even tried on a pink, tight, small shirt on. That was priceless! I’m so happy I took a picture. After that, we rode over to Nick’s house and we played Scrabble and Jenga. We then went downstairs into the basement where one of Nick’s brother was playing video games. He reallllllly got on my nerves though because he was being really sexual and I just didn’t like how he was talking to Michael, so I politely asked Michael if we could go and he said okay. Down the street, is a small farm that we went to on the way home. We walked around. Then we went to where the cows were, and there was this little kid who was all like, “mmm! I SMELL MILK.” And Michael and I looked at each other like “wtf, you can’t smell milk.”

Michael: I took Connor with me to go back home. Along the way, there was a teacher store that I really felt we should go visit. We reminisced the times in which our teachers had put up the same posters on the walls, played the same educational games with us, and much more. We joked about some of the older people who were shopping there; the “future teachers”. Just think what it would be like if one of those people shopping were your teacher during the school year. I know it sends a chill down my spine.  We headed back to the park by my house. I had never gotten the opportunity to show him the top of the hill. We went up carefully; there was a lot of tall prairie grass along the way. We finally made it; you could see the city from the top of the hill. Connor was simply amazed that you could see so far into the distance. Around noon, we went back home and I showed Connor a restaurant at our mall called Noodles & Co, which was not located near him. We both got the macaroni and cheese with Parmesan chicken. I could tell that this was Connor’s favorite meal during his trip, because he just loved the way it tasted and wanted to go back there a second time. We headed over to Dick’s Sporting Goods by my house (no silly, not because we were obsessed with sports!) We went to try out the scooters they had on the top floor. We tried out this one where you put your feet on two platforms and you shake your booty to the left and right to make it move. It was hilarious watching Connor try it out. He loved it. We then got the idea that we should bake something together. Connor had a recipe for chocolate cake that he wanted to share with me, and so we biked to the grocery and obtained the ingredients. We had a blast making it together and it turned out alright, even though we could not find the correct size pan to use. The cake was delicious in my opinion; Connor thought it was dry, but it didn’t matter to me. I hadn’t made one before at home, and so it was a new experience for me. We played video games together while the cake was cooking in the oven.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 6

Connor: We started the wonderful day off with a gourmet breakfast at Egg Harbor. We got pretty much every side dish on the menu and split it all. It was soooo yummerz. Especially the potatoes with the restaurant’s special seasoning. After we ate and payed, we rode our bikes on over to Target and we just browsed around. We picked up the movie Superbad, and continued to walk around some. And then Michael’s bowels decided they wanted to move around some, so we quickly bought Superbad and rushed to the bathroom. Michael went into the stall and I was the only other person in the restroom, so he and I just talked the whole time. I don’t even remember what about, poop I’m sure. Our code in case anyone came in was to cough once. But that wasn’t necessary, so that was nice. After he finished up, we walked on down to Michaels, the craft store. Michael and I tried on some feather boas and other fun things. We took so many photos there. And we saw the miniature animal toys! While I tried to get two cows in a sexual position, Michael was marveling at the meerkats, which I’m sure are one of his favorite animals.

Michael: Connor didn’t let me play with the meerkats or any of the other animals on the rack. He just pulled me away from it by the collar, saying that I shouldn’t get hypnotized by its cuteness. Anyway, we then looked a little bit at the Halloween section (gosh, it comes earlier every year!). We then took a ride over to Kohls and looked at the clothing together. We tried on matching soda shirt outfits. I had a Dr. Pepper shirt and Connor had a Orange Crush shirt on. We looked like twins in them! I remembered that there was another mall I had wanted to show him, so we biked over to it. I showed him the fancy, exquisite bowling alley. It wasn’t really what people expected from one of those places; there weren’t drunk sports fans watching football at the bar in the back. No, there were couches, a fine restaurant, and a perfect cleanliness. We were getting thirsty from the heat, so we headed towards Starbucks and got a Frappuccino again. The people working there were snickering because we decided to share the drink and had asked them for two straws. It was embarrassing, but we enjoyed our time there. Connor spilled some of it on his pants, so I helped him get the stain out (I’m just such a clean freak, I know).

Connor: Yeah, the Starbucks was kind of embarrassing, but oh well. I got to share a drink with my bestie. After that, we biked on over to REI, the outdoors place. The first thing we spotted there was a HUGE rack of about 50 or 60 sleeping bags. Michael and I hid inside them and none of the employees could see because our feet were even covered up. That was fun. Then we roamed over to the clothing section where Michael found those swishy track pants and he was like, “I wanna try these on!” so I said something like, “oohh, okay,” so I grabbed a pair of super lightweight shorts and we ran on over to the handicap dressing room. Michael tried on the pants, then the shorts. I tried on the same bottoms as he did, and, since there were already two female shirts in the room, I took the liberty of trying those on as well. I then stuffed my socks where there should be boobs. Michael was laughing hysterically. I’m sure that was probably one of his favorite times of the whole week. We got our normal clothes back on and on the way out, I saw biking shorts. You know, those super tight shorts that professional bikers wear. So I grabbed a pair and dragged Michael back into the dressing room. I tried them on first. And what a convenient time to have an erection. In the shorts it was possible to see the entire outline of my penis. We laughed so hard at that! Then I made him try on the shorts! He was really uncomfortable in them, so I didn’t have time to take a picture. Boooo. Michael’s grammy had just called asking us to get some Medium (not Hot, noooooo Hot wouldn’t work for her. It HAD to be Medium) salsa, so since Whole Foods was next to REI, we ran in and got grammy her Medium salsa. When Michael and I got home, we decided to chill out and we went into momma and dadda’s room to watch TV. Now, pretty much when Michael and I were alone in front of a TV, he would allow me to lay my head on his stomach/lap, and we couldn’t have anyone see that, so I closed and locked the door to the bedroom and we settled down to watch Tom and Jerry, Cash Cab, and Food Network Challenge (Princess Cake episode.) We heard Michael’s friend Trevor pop in, but we dismissed it as his dad getting home from work. About half an hour later, someone knocked on the locked door. I got off Michael’s lap and he ran over to the door. It was Trevor. Again. So after his rambunctious “hello,” he jumped on the bed next to me, and a big waft of sweaty air collided with my nostrils. We all three layed on the bed and continued watching Food Network Challenge until dinner time.

Michael: What was funny (and downright ridiculous) was that my grandma did not let Trevor eat enchiladas with us for dinner; what was even more ridiculous was that he was not even allowed to sit at the table with our family to eat because my grandma considered him as a “disturbance to the peace”. The enchiladas were pretty good; Connor made me try an olive slice (which I hated the taste of but was too scared to admit it). I also tried some Tabasco on top, just like Connor always does. After dinner, Trevor went to the basement to go hang out with my sister, so I came up with the idea that Connor and I should go take the dogs for a walk to escape Trevor, so my sister came along and we brought them to the fountain in the park and let them run around without their leashes on. This didn’t go so well as the other times we let the run around. There was a really old woman there and she yelped when the dogs came up to her after jumping out of the fountain. My sister told us that we should keep the dogs away from her or she would have us put the leashes back on the dogs. The good news is that the old woman finally left the area, the bad news is that the dogs also left the area. Connor and my sister went chasing after the dogs while I went to go grab their leashes and bring them over. We were very upset after that: we were exhausted, Connor got tons of splinters from running barefoot on gravel, and worst of all, Trevor found us. He followed us home all perky and happy; asking to run with the dogs some more. He didn’t realize how upset we were chasing after the dogs and that we wanted to keep them under tight control on the way home. We didn’t trust him with the dogs. Connor screamed at Trevor for repeatedly asking, “Can I walk the dogs?” He was really getting on our nerves and we kept telling him to just go home. We made it to our doorstep and there was Trevor, completely disobeying my request of his removal from the premises. We went inside; Connor went upstairs to shower while I told my dad to make sure Trevor leaves the house when he comes. I started to walk upstairs to go shower too. While I was brushing my teeth, Trevor came upstairs to say goodbye to me (I guess my dad didn’t tell him to leave). I stepped into the shower and I still heard noise coming from outside the bathroom door.

Connor: That noise? That was me blowing up at Trevor. A second time. But first… let’s rewind. Let’s go back to after Emily and I caught up with the dogs. I caught one of the dogs. I think it was Indy, but I’m not so sure. So Emily went a different way home, running with Chewy. Michael and I were walking with Indy. And bam! Guess who shows up in his tye-dye shirt and rollerblades? Trevor. That kind of made me a little annoyed. But microscopically annoyed. What really got me was the fact that he would not listen to me when I said to leave me and Indy alone. He said, “it’s not fair that the other dog gets to run, but this one has to walk with you. Cmon, please hand him over,” I kept saying, “no,” very calmly. And then, about half a block from home, I was telling Trevor how rude it is to just drop in on someone (Michael) especially when they have a friend over (me). Then he told me, “but I called Michael and he said I could come over anytime I wanted,” but I knew this wasn’t true, as I had been around Michael 24/7 AND I have been the one answering Michael’s cell. So this made me mad. Really mad. So I blew up. I screamed at him, “WHAT. EVER.” And I stormed off, halfway between a walk and a jog. Michael caught up with me, dumbstruck. I turned around once, to find Trevor staring at me like a deer caught in headlights. He hadn’t budged from the spot I screamed at him at. Michael tried his very best to cool me down, and it worked quite a bit. I stopped after crossing his street, pulled my checkered Vans and socks off and tried picking out one of my many splinters from running barefoot after Indy and Chewy. Michael sat with me, making sure I was okay. I said yes, and we were at home. Both of us went upstairs to shower, and Michael told me he told his dad to get rid of Trevor. I got in the steaming hot shower and totally tranquilized. I got out after giving my head and every other square inch of my body a nice lathering. Then I heard Trevor’s voice out in the hallway. I had thought of what to say to Trevor the entire shower, so I rushed through drying off, didn’t do my hair, and left my glasses on the sink. I pulled on my clothes, that were specked with wet spots from my body, and I ran out into the hall to find Trevor practically pounding on Michael’s bathroom’s door. *Now we’re back from the rewind.* I tried to get Trevor into Michael’s bedroom to talk to him man-to-man, but he wouldn’t have it. So I just unleashed myself right there. Right in the stairwell. Right in front of Emily’s open door. Right in front of my best friend, trying to shower. I totally lost my cool. I asked Trevor how many times does he see Michael. He said, “I dunno!” and I asked him how many times I get to. He replied, “once, I don’t know not very much.” And I said, “exactly. That is all I had to say,” and I went to the bathroom to continue drying off. I exit, and make a beeline for Michael’s bedroom to wait for him. I pass Emily’s room, hoping somehow she didn’t hear what just occurred. I sat down at Michael’s desk, giving the wall a very blank stare. I heard Trevor crying, and that made me feel like pure sh*t. Then Michael came in his room, closed the door, and sat on his bed. I came over as well, sitting next to him. I was keeping my cool. And then Emily came in to snag Michael. I was left giving the opposite side of the room the same blank stare.

Michael: Emily brought me into her room where my dad was sitting on her bed. My dad told me that I should go downstairs to try and calm Trevor because he was having a mental breakdown in the kitchen of my house. My dad told me that he has a lot of social problems and that this would affect our friendship if I didn’t go down to calm him down. I went down the stairs; the crying got louder. I was afraid that Trevor would try and shoot me or something crazy like that. I slowly walked in and saw that he was sitting in the corner of the room, rolled up in a ball talking with his mom on the phone. I sat next to him on the floor and hugged him and tried to calm him down by telling him that everything was going to be alright. He slowly stopped crying and put down the phone to hug me back. I told him that we were still friends and that he shouldn’t be upset. I finally saw that smile I was aiming for and he started to regain himself and talk to me a little bit more. I told him that he should be getting home because it was late and that we would hang out after Connor had left. I watching him leave, shut the door and went back upstairs as if nothing had ever happened.

Connor: Michael entered his room again, I was sitting on the desk chair. Michael sat on his bed again, and again, I followed him over, and I laid on his lap. I asked him what he did when he left, and he told me. I remember so so so clearly asking Michael if he still liked me after what happened and I think that’s when I turned on the waterworks. There we were. Michael sitting on his bed with his legs folded and there I was, crying, with my head on his lap, between his stomach and his thighs. He just let me lay there, and he was touching my hair and consoling me, telling me that he still liked me and he didn’t think of me as a bad person. He asked if I thought we shouldn’t be friends and I vividly remember digging my head into his stomach and hugging him and saying no, no, no, no involuntarily. So then he told me about how he met and became friends with Trevor. Simply because they were the ones sitting together at lunch. And I told Michael that he shouldn’t let Trevor take advantage of him, as I saw Trevor do on the walk home with Indy. I told Michael that he was definitely my best friend, and why he, an online friend, is better than any school friend. And then I started crying hard again. After a little while, we hugged. Long and caring. I think, if I remember correctly, we hugged like three separate times. That was when I realized that I loved Michael. Not homosexually, sexually, or anything; but as a friend. I saw that Michael really cared for me, and that made me feel so good.

Michael: I tried to get Connor back on his feet again. I had already cheered Trevor up, so I felt that this would be like a “Round Two.” He kept on going to topics which would make him more upset and I tried to steer him away from that. We hugged a lot; I told him to take deep breaths to get it all out. I had to change my shirt afterward, for it was covered in Connor’s tears. I went into my dad’s room and he told me that I handled the situation well with Trevor because he was afraid that he would try and kill himself when he got home or something crazy like that. Connor was afraid what my family thought about him now that he yelled at Trevor. He followed me into the room and my dad started to explain that Trevor has problems and he requires special help. He wasn’t mad at him; instead he understood that Connor didn’t know at the time. We felt at ease after that and decided to end the day by watching Superbad and Borat. Connor laid on my lap while we watched the movies.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 7

Connor: I think Friday was the first or second day where I got in Michael’s bed and woke him up with a head/back rub. Something funny happened when I tried to keep Michael from getting out of bed, but I won’t say what cause I like secrets, teeehee. Anyway, we got dressed and stuff, and decided to make pancakes for breakfast! We got a recipe off the internet and prepared them. We had a little batter left over after making 3 pancakes, so we made a penis shaped pancake with the left overs. I ended up eating the pener and it was yummy. Then, we played Wii a little while with Emily. Then, we went to the movie theatre at the strip mall near Michael’s house. I wanted to see 500 Days of Summer, so that’s what we saw. The ticket agent was not paying attention, so I had to repeat the order. And then Michael had to repeat some of it too! All because the 17 year old lady had the attention span of a two year old. So that made me kind of mad, so I called her “honey,” which I do sometimes. We finally got our tickets and walked off to the theatre. Michael was upset with my temper, so I apologized for embarrassing him.

Michael: I was pretty embarrassed when Connor called the lady “honey” because it not only affects the way she viewed Connor, but also the way she viewed me, since I am the friend of him. Anyway, I really enjoyed the movie we saw, 500 Days Of Summer. It was about the relationship between this guy and this girl named Summer. The movie spans over 500 days and switches back and forth between the beginning and end. I thought it was clever how they contrasted the different feelings in the beginning and end. I just loved the end of the movie, it was so cute. I won’t spoil it though, but it does have to do something with seasons. Connor loved the movie too. We were a little hungry afterward (Connor and I keep a meter out of 100% to describe how hungry we were), but we didn’t stop to go have lunch so soon. I got the idea that we should sneak in to see another movie! It was raining out pretty hard and there was no way we would walk home in that, so we passed the time by seeing a second movie: The Hangover. Connor was really excited to show this movie to me because he had seen it before he came and he loved it. The movie was rated R, so I was a little afraid that we would get caught sneaking in to an R rated movie; then again, the security at our mall is pretty low, so we got in very easily. We hid in the back row of the theater just in case a worker came in. We were fine though, there was just one worker who came in to help a handicap person out. The Hangover eventually started and our hunger level began to rise. Connor was lieing on my stomach half the time and he said he could hear my stomach growling pretty viciously. The movie was a lot better than 500 Days Of Summer, I just loved the plot because it was very unique and grasped my attention. We were laughing pretty hard at the credits of the movie, but we had to get out of there fast because we felt like slaves waiting to get their dinner. We were sitting in the booth at Noodles & Co for our food to arrive. We were to only get a little, considering dinnertime was in an hour. I ordered a spaghetti and meatballs and Connor got the macaroni and chicken. We walked home, glad to have our stomachs filled. It was pretty wet on the ground from the rain and there were some tents set up for the art fair that would take place the next day.

Connor: Michael and I walked home, and as soon as we got home, Grammy asked us to set the table, so I told Michael to sit back and relax, since I don’t have many chores at home. I took the forks and knives and set them on the right side of the plates, just like I do it at home. The thanks I get? Gramma comes in and says, quite dramatically, that I did it wrong! The forks had to go on the OTHER side. So I mouthed to Michael, “does it really flipping matter?” and I saw him stifle a giggle or two. And then granny asked for one of us to go downstairs to the basement to get a new jug of milk, so again, I did it for Michael. I went downstairs, picked a gallon, and brought it upstairs. Me: “here you go.” Gramma: “no no! That’s the wrong jug! Get the one in front!” So I went back down, got a different milk, and brought THAT back up. Amen. It was the right one. Then we had Shabbat dinner, since Michael’s family is Jewish. This was the first Jewish thing I’ve done since I had Passover dinner with some of my mom’s family like 4 years ago, so it was new to me. Michael’s older sister, Rebecca, was saying some things in Hebrew then we ate our oven baked chicken, broccoli (well I had some, anyway), and mashed potaters. Also, Shabbat wasn’t complete without some Challah, so we had some of that yumminess too.

Michael: When we were clearing up, I talked to my dad in the kitchen. Of course, I wanted to tell him what we did today, so I told him what movies we saw and I told him that we snuck in to see The Hangover– right when my grandma walked in. I didn’t even see her there! She’s so tiny! Well, she gave me “the talk” again and Connor gave a look like, “why did you have to tell?” so I was pretty upset. I guess grandma likes her etiquette.

Connor: After dinner, Michael, Emily, and I watched Scary Movie 4 along with Michael’s dad. About halfway through the movie, though, his dad went up to bed. After Scary Movie 4, Emily stuck around to watch Austin Powers and the Spy who Shagged Me. Both movies are in my top 10 favorites. Sooo funny. Michael liked them too. Every time I looked over at him, he was smiling or laughing.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 8

Michael: We really could not believe that this was the last full day we were spending together. Connor got into my bed and I buried him in all the pillows that I had and took a picture. We got dressed pretty quickly and headed over to go to Egg Harbor for lunch. We got our usual breakfast buffet and ate up. Connor wanted to try on more clothes with me after we had so much fun trying some on at REI. We headed for Target. Connor took a bunch of pictures of us wearing hats, purses, belts and other accessories. We headed over towards the athletic section and we were like, “we HAVE to try this on!” We tried on an “out of the hood” outfit in the changing room and had a bunch of laughs. I was afraid that the lady working on the other side of the wall didn’t hear us.  We tried on some really soft pajamas too and anything else we could find. We stopped at Kohls and tried on a sport outfit in the changing room and had some fun trying on some other clothes. I tried to find a pair of pajamas to put on but all we found were boxers (I’m guessing because it was summer). I took a picture of Connor in a little kid bath robe, it was so cute on him! We bought some matching shirts and headed back home on our bikes. We saw a dead rabbit in the middle of the road and Connor ran over it with his bike twice. I stopped at a lawn sprinkler and bent down to get a drink. The water was coming out really fast, and so my lips were tingling when I stood up from getting a drink.

Connor: It was interesting to see Michael bending down on the side of the road drinking out of the sprinkler. It was nice though. I would have too, except I wasn’t thirsty and it looked kind of painful. We got home and we were the only ones in the house, since Emily was walking the dogs. Michael had the brilliant idea of changing into our brand new shirts from Kohls. He also decided to change his pants, so he took off all his clothes and was like, “I wanna walk around the house like this,” so he did. He went to the bathroom completely naked except for his underwear. I was like, “why not?” so I took my shirt off and walked around too. Of course, I just HAD to snap a picture of Michael when he was in his bathroom putting on deodorant, heh. After we changed, we headed over to the art fair at the nearby mall. One of the tent owners noticed we were wearing similar shirts and he asked, “do you guys like call each other up and ask what the other is wearing?” and I said, “naw, we just got them.” After walking around some more, we decided to go get some Ben and Jerry’s. When we were ordering, the woman also noticed our shirts. She asked the same question and got the same answer as the other guy. Michael ate his half baked ice cream stuff and I just had vanilla. I’m a simple-to-please guy. It was really hot outside, so it wasn’t much longer until we went home. When we did get home, Emily, Michael, and I played the Wii until Daddio got home to take us downtown.

Michael: Ben and Jerry’s was so, so refreshing! That day it was very hot out: a sweltering 90 degrees and so I’d totally skip lunch to go have ice cream! I noticed someone from my school working there, so I greeted them. My ice cream was so messy! I’m just such a messy eater. I had to get a bunch of napkins from the counter to wipe it up. Good thing it didn’t get on my awesome shirt that Connor bought for me. My dad finally came and we left immediately. I pointed out some things to Connor along the way. I showed him the building that keeps getting painted over every week or so. We pointed out some funny license plates. There was a lot of traffic, so we rested on each others shoulders in the car. Even my sister joined in and leaned on my shoulder. We finally reached the city and Connor took plenty of photos of things. He took a picture of this really sweaty guy we saw running. He took a picture of this guy painted all in silver. He even took pictures of people taking pictures! We went to go to the Water Tower and look around. By that time, Connor and I were very hungry, so we went straight to the top and split a hot dog at Auntie Annie’s so that we wouldn’t starve by the time dinner came around. We looked around in some shops there. We drank a few samples of tea at Teavana. We messed around with the lotions at Bath and Body Works. I almost broke a bottle of perfume because I dropped it on the floor. Connor put some foundation on my arm and it wouldn’t rub in, so I had to wipe it off with a paper towel. Connor had to put his camera away after taking some pictures in this art gallery we stopped at. We had fun though; we looked around plenty. My dad led us to the John Hancock building next door and we shopped around there too. I was really surprised that Connor had never been through a revolving door before. He was all scared the first time we went through one. They are just so common in Chicago.

Connor: When all five of us entered the John Hancock building, Michael and I made a beeline for the restrooms, since we both had to pee. We were planning on going up to the observatory at the top, but it was 15 bucks a person, which was too expensive, so instead we rummaged around in the gift shop there. We even found a shirt with a hot dog on it that said, “bite here.” I just had to take a picture of that, since Michael was cracking up. Michael’s dad suggested we go to the Hershey store. When we got there, on a display was “the world’s largest Hershey’s bar” and it really WAS big. After taking some pictures, we went to the Ghirardelli store, where they gave us free chocolates. It was packed tighter than a can of sardines in that shop, though, so we went back to the Water Tower for dinner at Foodlife, a buffet type restaurant with numerous different types of cuisines. I decided to get Nachos from the Mexican area, Michael decided to go for the traditional deep dish pizza from the pizza area, Michael’s dad went for a sea food soup, Emily had spaghetti, and Rebecca got stir fry. The stir fry took so long to be ready, that in the time Rebecca waited in line, the other 4 of us ate all our dinners, Dad had seconds, and Michael and I shared a Nutella crêpe. But we patiently let Rebecca eat. We didn’t go straight home after dinner though. On our way out of Chicago, we stopped and Michael’s dad went to go pick up some pizzas for another time. That left us, the four kids, sweltering in the car. “I Gotta Feeling” played so much that day, that while we were waiting to go home, Michael, Emily, and I were all singing it! That was pretty fun.

Michael: We went back home to go settle down after our grand adventure downtown. Connor put all of our pictures together on Facebook. I dedicated the evening to Connor, for it was his last night and I decided to put on the House Bunny, a movie that both of us would enjoy. We went to bed early that night, since Connor had a big day tomorrow and had to pack for his departure. That night we talked about how the week went by so fast and he asked me about how my perception of him was different from before the trip.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 9

Connor: Sunday. My last day. The moment I woke up, I was already kind of sad that I had to go home, but I tried my best not to let Michael see that. Ever since the art fair, we had realized we were subconsciously ending my trip the same way we opened it up, so where not better to go for breakfast than Starbucks? I got my vanilla bean frappucino and a doughnut. Michael got the same drink, along with a chocolate cookie and a sausage breakfast sandwich. It was $13. The last money I’d spend on the both of us. When we got back home, we tagged all the Facebook pictures and I half-heartedly packed, since I knew I had time. But it was getting late, so I really started dedicating myself to packing. And then Michael’s dad asked when my flight was. I replied that it was at one thirty, and he said, “oh, man! We gotta go right now! Are you guys [Michael and me] ready to go?!” So Michael and I grabbed my two bags and put them in the car. Now this is when I was really starting to be sad. I knew we had such a limited time left. About 75% of the drive back to Midway consisted of me staring at Michael’s face and pointing at funny billboards. When we arrived at the Southwest Drop Off, I got out of the back seat of the car, Michael followed my actions. He pulled my duffel bag out, and I got my backpack out. And then we hugged one last time and I thanked him for the absolutely amazing time he gave me and I thanked his dad for allowing me to live in their house for a week. I also shook Dad’s hand, they got back in the car and when I was halfway through the double sliding doors alone, I looked back and there the black Mercedes was, pulling away.

Michael: I really could not believe that the week had gone by so fast, I really could not leave him there. I remember pulling into the airport seeing these two girls hugging in the middle of the terminal. It made me feel more depressed that he was leaving. Airports are places that bring people together, yet they are also places that tear people apart. Connor was being torn apart from me once again. I watched him from the car window go into the doors of the check-in area. We had such a great experience together filled with tons of memories. It is difficult to fathom that we came from just two people who met online to best friends in life. Ever since I met him on WordPress that one day, we have gotten to be closer and closer friends. We moved from talking through comments and avatars to swapping our Microsoft Live user names and talking some more on there. Then the unimaginable happened: we started to use our web cams back in February 2009. I remember we were just so shy at first, we didn’t want to share our voice because we were scared to see what it was like to talk to a stranger face to face. Now it is like we can not go a single day without talking to each other on the phone. Time went on and we grew even closer as friends. We started to trust each other more and learn more about each other. After 5 months of web cam, something even more unimaginable happened. Something that we thought was extremely unlikely to occur when we first met online: meeting in person.

Connor: So that is that. Michael and I. Best online friends transformed into best life friends. We had amazing times, and not so fantastic times, but that isn’t relevant. What is relevant is the metamorphosis we have gone through together and the fact that I got to spend a week with one of the best people in the world, something I never imagined in my wildest dreams when we first became friends, about a year ago. Michael has given me a taste of something that I have never had with any of my other friends. Hopefully I gave him something similar.