Our first meeting

nowvandm

Before we ever met in person, Meri and I were pen pals. We wrote letters almost daily for months before we finally met in person this week, 21 years ago.

I had been dying to meet Meri in person for months and, somehow, successfully badgered my parents to let me spend Thanksgiving break in NJ with Meri and her family.

It’s become quite the joke in both our families, that my parents were willing to ship me off to strangers for a few days, and that Meri’s family didn’t reject inviting an unknown teenage girl into their own home.

“They seemed like good people,” my mother says when prodded about the decision. Our moms spoke on the phone several weeks prior, approved of each other and decided to permit my trip.

Mother knows best. But little did any of us know, this journey was the first of many meetings for Meri and me.

I should further explain our background. Meri and I were pen pals for many months before our famed in-person meeting. We actually met through a mutual friend who I befriended at a concert in NJ one year prior. Meri was a close friend of the concertgoer, who months later moved to the Midwest.

We wrote daily, chatted on the phone and send each other “audio letters,” that’s a recorded, rambling message on a cassette tape. We shared a love of writing, music, books and Disney. And we loved address labels and stationary – still do!

letters

The day before Thanksgiving I boarded a train alone for Trenton, NJ. Little did I know I was traveling on the busiest travel day of the year. I also didn’t have a clue I’d need to switch trains in Philly without anyone to guide me. Sure, I was 16 but I still hadn’t gotten my driver’s license and had never traveled solo before.

And, of course, I had overpacked. (Because every girl needs two suitcases and a video camera for a 4-day adventure to visit her bestie. Right?!)

I was a bit overwhelmed in the travel hustle, but managed the board the correct train (twice!) and hours later arrived in Trenton. Meri and her dad were waiting for me at the station.

throwbacktrain

We hugged, squealed and giggled like (well) teenage girls. Then we made a music video. (I wish I could say I was kidding, but I’m not. We were so cool.)

Exhibit A of our coolness factor

Exhibit A of our coolness factor

The weekend festivities went all too fast. We danced, we sang, we swapped stories. We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with Meri’s family, which was also my first holiday away from my own home. We attended several parties with Meri’s friends and watched Aladdin in the theater.

It should be noted we are wearing each others jackets. Why? Because.

It should be noted we are wearing each others jackets. Why? Because.

We spent Black Friday in NYC – where ironically we did not shop, but visited the Natural Museum of History and Hayden Planetarium (I fell asleep!) then walked all over Central Park and midtown, avoiding subway vents on each block because we were afraid we’d fall down to the tracks.

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

We stayed up until early morning hours gossiping and giggling.

And of course, we took lots of photos. We still laugh at our fateful decision to get portraits taken as a pair. That’s where we came up with this beauty:

throwbackcouple

The weekend was the first of many get-togethers over the next two decades.

throwbackband

Together, we’ve explored NYC many times, sang along in concert with boy bands, savored chocolate in Hershey, PA, hiked a canyon in California and ran hand-in-hand through Cinderella’s Castle in Florida.

I cheered alongside Mer’s parents as she earned her masters degree.

vic-grad

throwbackmasters

And she cheered as I ran my first marathon.

Philly Marathon 2010

Philly Marathon 2010

We were each bridesmaids in the other’s wedding and I am auntie to her two incredible sons.

vic-treeboysChristmas 2012

Ironically, we both lost touch with our mutual friend, but we were blessed with each other. And this week, I can’t think of a better reason to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Who else is thankful for a longtime best friend? How did you meet? Will you also share embarrassing photos with us? Tell us more in the comments.

21 thoughts on “Our first meeting

  1. What a cute story! Love the photos! Am I the most pathetic person for never having a penpal or long distance friend as a teen?! I’m thankful to have lived in a few cities in my adult life and now have Ohio BFFs, Seattle BFFs, Boston BFFs, & Rochester BFFs! Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • You are NOT pathetic for not having a long-distance friend as a teen! No way, no how! And look at the amazing collection of people you’ve met as an adult in your many homes across the country! xo Happy Turkey Day darling!

  2. What an adooooorable post! 21 years strong – that is a testament to a very strong bond. Cheers to many more years, you two! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I have two best friends I’m thankful for. We met in high school and have been chugging along for 15 years (almost)! They both just had babies a couple months ago so our conversation has gone from boys we were crushing on to boys we married and now our little baby boys! There are other topics mixed in there, of course, but I’m grateful that we have hit so many important milestones together. Best friends are the best!

    • Aw, thanks Jess! And how wonderful that you and your best friends have all hit such big milestones around the same time. That makes life so much more special for all of you — and you also have each other to lean on, ask advice, and celebrate more milestones! YAY! xo

  3. I might still have a copy of that picture of you in the pink sweater! I think Meri sent it to me.

    I don’t really have BFFs, but I’ve been friends with Jen since …. oh man, 1990 I think? She and I, along with our friend Amy (who she’s known even longer) email each other at least 3 times every week. I’ve also been friends with Andy since 1992.

    I met you in the MMC pen pal circle. I thought you were so cool and loved getting letters from you. Those were such good days. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Confession: I found my framed 8×10 copy (I know, stop laughing) in my box of letters. I set it out to display for a bit because…well, you can see how fun it is!

      I love that you have not one but TWO longtime friends like that. Everything is better with the ones we love most.

      I loved getting letters from you! I feel like I met some incredible people back in the day. FB connections turned into FB connections! Coincidence? I think not!!

  4. Your story always reminds me of the show Felicity. Pen pals for life! So wonderful.

    I have a long time best friend since 8th grade, and I think we do have some professional photos together- in matching shirts, even! I also have a gang of besties who’ve been my core group of girls since high school. I’m always thankful for good girlfriends. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ironically, we both watched and LOVED Felicity!

      Hooray for your best friend and professional portraits! haha, I’d love to see those. Clearly Meri and I are long overdue for some. We were going to do it last year for our 20th anniversary, but superstorm sandy ruined our plans.

  5. What an awesome post! My best friend and I met in high school in choir because we were like the only 2 people who didn’t get a solo in this one really long song (we exagerate – there were other people worse than us ๐Ÿ™‚ ). She was the Maid of Honor in my wedding and gave a speech about how the wedding was secretly our wedding and my husband needed to leave immediately so that we could say our vows without him meddling! We’ve only known each other for 12 years but it feels like forever! I’m so glad you guys were able to stay in touch!

    • Aw, hooray for your best friend and MOH! I love her speech at your wedding! What a hoot! 12 years is a long time, congratulations! Here’s to many more years!

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  7. There is nothing better than a long time friend..the kind where you just pick up the conversation from the last time without a pause. It is the best gift ever and something to be very thankful for.

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