I've realized a lot of things during this week I've been down in Florida. I came down here again for Spring Break, March 5-March 15th. On March 13th, I finally met Joanna Eiss, an internet friend I've known for three years now. She randomly im'ed me one night 3 years ago, my sophmore year of college at SU. I really believe this was an amazing event in my life, second only to meeting her this past day.
Over the past three years I've talked to Joanna quite often. I've grown to love the person she is, her personality. This is the first time I've ever questioned myself if I loved someone without having seen them first. I hadn't seen a picture of her until months into talking to her online. She lives in Sarasota, Florida which is about a little over an hour from where my parents have a place in Fort Myers Beach. To be absolutely honest, the main reason why I decided to come down here again for Spring Break (I was down here 2 years ago for my sophmore year Spring Break) was because I could meet up with Joanna, even if it was only for a day. I had to meet this girl in person who I've loved talking to online so much. While on the plane ride from Detroit to here, I was thinking that every passing minute was one that bore me closer and closer to her. I had gotten some newer pictures of Joanna over my Christmas break when she sent me some for Christmas. She was absolutely adorable in those pictures and I fell in love with her looks immediately. This is the first time I've ever gotten so nervous to meet someone before in my life. The night before, after I talked to her on the phone I got the most intense butterflies in my stomach I've ever had. It would be more accurate to say I've never gotten them, until that moment. I got so excited, and I liken it to remembering being young and getting excited for Christmas in September even though it was months away. We always have talked and brought up meeting eachother, but I never knew how soon it would happen. In my heart I always knew it WOULD happen because I would make it happen, no matter what. So despite the fact I got to see my parents and our newest addition to the family, our Shih-Tzu Toby, I came down again for Spring Break. I knew full well I'd be spending the week with people 3-4x my age, and likely not with anyone close to my own age at all. There were many times where I would start to regret coming down here, instead of going to Cancun, or some other exotic Spring Break destination. I take every moment of regret back. This was infinitely worth it, and even if for some absurd happenstance of chance that I never ever see Joanna again in person, I would never have this day changed.
I really care for this girl
I had a revelation this week. I always said I could never live down here. The weather is hot all year round, or temperate rather. The traffic is a nightmare during the "hot season," when "snowbirds" come down to stay and Spring Breakers are everywhere. After a time this week I changed that resolve to "I could live down here maybe when I retired." It then became "If I was in love, I could live anywhere the love of my life did." I wish I could say I now hold it as "I could live anywhere Joanna did," but I know better to place all of my heart on a hope for her. She's down here, for the time being, and I am up there. I want to record the events of this past day because it was that
special to me.
So I told Joanna I would call her during the week before I left, so we could make plans for that Saturday the 13th of March. I waited until Thursday night to try and call her and after some phone and text-message tag I finally talked to her on Friday evening. We made plans for her and her friend Alex, who came with her so Joanna's mother wouldn't worry, would drive down from Sarasota and meet up with me. I feel guilty, I admit, because I could have spent the entire day with her, and I am upset that I did not. I went to see my Aunt Annette, Uncle Tony, and 3 cousins at my aunt and uncle's pool down the road. So I ended up having Alex and Joanna come around 4 o'clock. They arrived early and while I was shaving they phoned up from outside. I buzzed them into the first floor lobby, and hurriedly finished getting dressed. I wasn't as nervous as I was early that day, or the day before, but I was so excited. I had envisioned so many ways of our first meeting going, and although it wasn't picture perfect, that was fine. Nothing ever is, and at this point just meeting Joanna and spending time with her was the best outcome of all. I came out of the elevator and saw her friend Alex first, (who I recognize to be in a few of the pictures she sent me), and then I saw Jo. My heart almost skipped a beat-she was even more gorgeous than I already expected her to be. This is a special case though, because like I have said I got to know WHO she was before I did WHAT she was, and this is I think is a very important thing since I usually get interested in women initially by sight. I think it made Joanna worth so much more to me. So I went over to her and I gave her a big hug. That part went partly as I'd daydreamed of it. We embraced and she gave me a little tight squeeze midway through and vice versa. It really struck me just how excited she was to meet me when she had told me the night before she had dedicated
this day to me. That's also partly the reason I felt guilty I didn't plan more time for us. So we went out to Joanna's car and headed downtown on Fort Myers Beach. The opposite end of the island from where my parents reside is like the hot spot "downtown" area where there are restaurants and shops and public beaches. So we parked after the "Lakana," what Alex called the Lani Kai, and walked around for a bit. We browsed in a few shops, and I just tried to be myself. I tried really to be honest, and be who I am, just Pete-nothing more and nothing less. It was like I had no need to impress Jo, because her coming and showing up and being so earnest to meet me really showed just how much she valued our friendship. I don't think she's ever met anyone else she knew off of the internet before... (I'm actually tearing right now, and I really can't tell if they're tears of sadness or happiness. I think it's a mix of both)
So we walked a few circles, and "horse-shoes," and unfinished polygons, and headed back towards the main area. We stopped at the Lani Kai and it really wasn't that hot a scene, more of a bar scene, so we went out to the Pierside Grill and had dinner. Both girls sat across from me so I could see Joanna face to face. Alex was a pretty cool girl, and I have a lot of respect for her coming with Jo to meet me. It meant more than she knows to me, even though she did it for Joanna, in a way to me she also really did that for me, a complete stranger she's never met, but knew that I meant something to Jo. We had dinner, my treat, (I felt I owed that much to Alex for coming, and Jo came to ME) and talked for a good hour and a half. I really got to know Joanna more during that time, and I couldn't help but notice how adorable her freckles were. She has the most gorgeous hazel eyes as well. I really never have liked freckles before, but Joanna made me see them in a whole new light. So Joanna wore this black skirt, pleated, with a pink ribbon that was a belt. She had a purple shirt on as well. Alex had a skirt on as well, which I gathered was very unusual because she calls herself a hick, and comes across as if she were tomboyish. That both of them "dressed to impress" in a sense was very sweet, and I hope that I made as good an impression on Joanna as she did on me. So after eating we walked around some more, and Alex finally decided to get a henna tattoo on the small of her back above the waistline. We kept making her laugh so we retreated to the other side of a sales cart to be out of the way. I chatted a bit more with her, and kept trying to sneak glances at her face when I could, and look in her in the eye. I did NOT want to come across as very nervous; I'm pretty sure I did anyways, but I think I handled myself pretty well. I learned a few new things about her during our time together. Her "father" is in NY state, West Seneca I think, near Buffalo. I knew her father was also in Fl with her mother. I found out that her birth father is in Fl who she lives with, and her "godfather" is in NY. She confided in me she often wondered if she was really his child since they act and look so much alike. I take it things between her and her father here are not as amazing as a father-daughter relationship should be. So we chatted some more, and I tried sneaking in a sweet comment that even though we missed the sunset, she was my sun today, and that was more than enough. We got along so well personality wise, which didnt' surprise me that much the more I reflected on it. I mean we've talked steadily for 3 years online, and disclosed some pretty personal things to eachother. I'm glad we were so compatible even in that short 6 hours together.
After leaving Ft Myers Beach, we headed off the island and ended up at the Edison Mall. There we went through a bunch of stores looking for prom dresses for Alex. That might be one of my most favorite parts of the entire day. We were just walking through the mall kind of like old friends, and I've said on many occasions I feel like I've known Joanna forever. When I get that way about someone I know I'm really comfortable with/around them. We shared a good amount of laughs, and they both seemed to like my sense of humor; there were a good deal of laughs from both and one point where Jo was shaking silently with laughter. Looking back I really should have held her hand or something, but ask if I am mouse or man, the mirror squeaked-away I ran, and I didn't really. Every so often we brushed near eachother, and subconciously mental notes were made. A couple times she gave me a playful shove for a little teasing joke aimed at her.
There was something amusing though-at the mall I stopped at the Sunglass Hut to ask some questions about getting a replacement nosepad for my XX-Metal Oakley sunglasses. I was the most outgoing, earnest, and unafraid I've ever been talking to a pretty attractive woman. Maybe I was riding a confidence high, but it was so easy and for a couple of minutes I realized I was living upto the man I want to be all of the time. Not an act, but rather my full potential. Just an interesting side note that I want to remember if I ever look back on this. I know I will at some point. It will help me remember. And just like the kid in American Beauty, "I need
After the mall we headed back to Ft Myers Beach taking the long route and trying to find our way. I felt a little bad that I didn't know so much about the area or how to get certain places being this is only my 3rd time down here. We listened to some songs, and I learned more about Alex along the way. I should have gotten in the back seat with Jo when Alex switched off with her to drive. Important to remember is that Joanna made a comment, under her breath, when we were just getting back onto the island. I'm racking my brain right now to remember. I said something and she replied under her breath and at first I didn't catch it but thinking on it for a minute I sort of caught the meaning and said I thought I knew what she said. When I had questioned her she had said nevermind and that it went over my head or somesuch. It was something along the gist though of me and her, and how I felt about her or what I meant to her. I hope it was good in context and connotation. Mitch came up a few times in conversation, and I take it that he and Joanna are still not together. God I hope they don't get back together. There was some fun poked at him because he had broken down in tears a few times, and over a girl like Jo I can see why. She mentioned that she didn't think she'd ever get rid of him unless she "stabbed him," so here's to hoping that he somehow gets out of the picture, nonviolently preferably :P Back at home we talked for about 15 more minutes, and I had Alex take some pictures of Joanna and I. A few I think will come out very adorable. She was very close to me during the first few, and I really hoped at that moment that she was glad to meet me. She took her flag out of her trunk and her and Alex traded off showing me some moves. Jo's pretty talented in guard, and I hope her and her team rock the state finals/sectionals they're competing in.
So they drove off and I walked in the lobby, got to the elevator before the first tears misted my eyes. In the car Alex had told us about when her boyfriend, Josh I think, said he had cried over her. They jokingly said "prove it," and I thought immediately that I would shed tears over Joanna. True to it I did shed a few. I got that sad feeling that I was so close to her for those hours, and now we'll be seperated by distance yet again. I will see Joanna again. It's the same as before; it's not a matter of if, rather when. I graduate in May, and if I get a job with AIG I will be able to visit Fl when my parents are down there more often. Maybe drive down, and be able to spend more time with her. There is nothing in my life that I want more at this exact moment in time, and I don't forsee that really changing. I don't want to fall in love with Joanna, not yet, I can't. I can't let that kind of dull heartache reside in me constantly. But I do know I want to be with
her, and spend more time getting to know her in person. I want to fall in love with her, and I want us to be together. I've said many a silent prayer the past few months that she might be the one for me, the one I keep searching for in my life. The one I can be happy not because of, but with. The one who I can share life with, and who enhances it for me just by having her in my life. (the tears are going again-I'm such a romantic sap). I hope our paths in the future cross, I really really do. I'm a loving person, and I trudge on every day on the whisper of a thought on a hope that there's a girl who can be all of this for me, and furthermore that I will meet her and end up with her. I know Jo doesn't like the cold climate that much, but I know she wants out of Florida. If I ever do fall in love with Joanna, I would move to be with her need be. To be farther from my family even, yes. That I've even said that shows how much I care about her because God, my family, and being a good person are the top things in my life. I think it's a bit careless to put her high up on a level with this, but I don't really think it's a matter of choice. My mind knows what my heart feels, and I can't control that. But if anything is solidified in my mind, it's that I'm going to be a good person. I'm going to better myself, and I have good reason now. Joanna is good enough for me, and I think much better a girl than I deserve. I want to be someone who is worthy of her as well. I have had "revelations" before and never really followed through on them to success but in this I will not fail and I will not falter. God presents opportunities. He puts them in front of me, but it is upto ME to act on them and make them a taken opportunity not a missed one. I pray that I have the strength to do this and God speed and guide me on my way.
I am so glad I have finally gotten to meet Joanna. So glad and grateful.
Through my tears I'm smiling.
After all maybe there are times in your life when you're not supposed to have anybody. Certain doors you gotta go through alone. And maybe these doors will continue to mold me into the man I want to be. And maybe, just maybe-they'll lead me to love.
So I end this lengthy, tear-inducing post with a quote that came to mind from a movie that was viewed as a bomb, but will forever hold such great meaning to me and how I relate to it:
"Dear God whose name I do not know.
Thank you for my life.
I forgot how big...
Thank you for my life.
Thank you for my life."
-Joe vs the Volcano
March 14, 2004