So, something really rad happened in my life. I met a new friend, no not just any old acquaintance I met in class, at a club, or through another mutual friend… I met this awesome girl believe it or not, over the Internet. I’ll be the first person to rag on the World Wide Web for being the predominant reason our generation has this inconceivable lack of ability to communicate, but maybe the internet does in fact have a weird way of bringing people together.
Here’s the story of how I met the wonderful Aisha Hatter…
It was one day last spring semester and I had just posted a picture on Instagram at some random place on campus and decided to tag my location. I was bored I guess and proceeded to go through all of the pictures that had been taken by random anonymous insta-people. That’s when I saw this really cool picture that caught my eye so I stumbled onto the owner’s profile where I saw a plethora of trendy food, hip style, and just all around stellar pictures. Normally I would never click FOLLOW, however for some reason that day I thought, “Well what have I got to lose?” So I clicked it against my better judgment and wow, who would have thought this little motion could in fact make such a huge difference.
After months of following this totally stranger over Instagram and her totally perfect life through her blog, it was clear that this girl and I were pretty much the same person. We virtually did all of the same things coincidently days apart. Weird. I know. We would go to the same restaurants, coffee shops, and record stores. One afternoon over the summer she went all the way down to Ringling Museum in Sarasota the day after I had been there! Okay, okay I know I sound like a total creep, because she had no idea who I was but it gets even more bizarre I swear!
Anyway, a few months ago I went to a lecture on campus hosted by Frank Warren, you know the guy that started Post Secret! The whole 2-hour lecture was based on the idea that sharing secrets can actually do a lot to help others as well as yourself. We all have secrets that we hide from others, good or bad, but there IS someone out there that has been through the same thing you have, really, it’s insane but true! The Post Secret community has been bringing people together for years and as a result has done a lot with the prevention of suicide around the world. At the event students actually had the chance to go up to the microphone and tell their deepest secrets. They were inspiring and emotional and I respect every single one of those students that had the courage to go up in front of hundreds of people and share something so personal. I was slightly jealous I didn’t have anything to say. People were in their most vulnerable states and it was so moving, however I felt as though I had nothing to hide, so I stayed in my chair and thoughtfully observed. When the lecture ended I waited around and chatted with a couple of my sorority sisters for a few minutes and proceeded to head out to the car, when all of a sudden… I SAW HER!
The stranger I was following online for months was literally 5 feet in front of me. I turned to my sister next to me, I uncontrollably started slapping her arm and making noises and faces never made by a living human being. I told my sister to look at the couple in front of us and I would tell her all about them in the car. Then we finally reached the car after what had seemed like a 7 day walk through the parking lot I quickly told her my exciting story of my friend… well stranger and how freaking amazing she was. She then said something very interesting… “ Wow, I wish I had a cool secret like that.” Boom. It hit me. I HAD A SECRET! So again.. against my better judgment and in the spirit of secret sharing, I thought that would be the only acceptable time to tell her just how I feel! I pulled out my phone, went straight to her blog, found her email address, and tried to type up a little something to send to this complete stranger trying to sound as normal as I could… Here it is:
So here’s the thing. I actually don’t know you at all, but one day I was trolling through some random USF tags on Instagram and came across all of your perfect pictures. Yeah, I was that rando that started following you, well frankly because you just seem so gosh darn cool! Anyway, I saw you started a blog and naturally I started reading it. You and Jake seem like the bomb. Here’s the thing, I was just at the Post Secret event on USF campus and I walked right by you! Weird. I know. I feel like the biggest creep in the entire world, but in the spirit of secret sharing I figured now was the most acceptable occasion to tell you just how amazing of a person you are. Your blog is inspiring, rad, creative, and I feel as though you can and should do anything you put your mind to.
This is just plain weird,
Really I’m not a creep, social media did this to me.
My heart was racing, my palms were clammy, my entire body was shaking… Would this be too weird to send to a total stranger? I closed my eyes and clicked “Send”. I then started second guessing myself. Was that even the right email? Am I considered a stalker? Could she call the police? Then all of a sudden my phone starts buzzing and I had one new email in my Inbox. FROM AISHA.
You have no idea how much this e-mail meant to me. I was really moved the entire Post Secret event. It had me feeling entirely introspective & kind of down on myself. Thank you so much for going out of your way to send me this message. Your kind words really meant more to me than you could ever imagine. I would seriously love to hang out with you if you’d be into that kind of thing. As Post Secret taught us, “Strangers are just people waiting to friends” (or something along the lines of that…). Thank you for taking the time to read Stellar Piece also. It makes me so happy to know that someone enjoys reading our writing & looking at our silly photos. If you ever want to talk, share a secret or just hang out, please feel free to text me at xxx.xxx.xxxx. I’d love to get to know you.
I finished reading the email and suddenly started jumping up and down and running around like a mad woman. This was not at all the response I was expecting and I couldn’t be any more ecstatic. I tried not to seem too attached and eager so I texted her the later the next morning. She prompting responded and we started a little casual small talk, you know, stranger to stranger. After a days worth of chit chat, I gummed up the courage and I asked my blogger crush out on a blind date to my favorite coffee shop, Felicitous, reassuring her I’m not stalker.
The date was set for Friday.
Friday swiftly arrived and after hours of picking out the perfect blind date outfit, I hopped in my Scion and was on my way. The entire drive all I could think was “Wow, I am actually living an episode of Catfish”. I walked into the cottage-turned-coffee shop and glanced around the room and she was nowhere to be found. I went up to the counter and ordered my usual, cup of Joe, when suddenly she was standing right next to me. We looked at each other, stunned. It was a weird feeling, this girl was almost fictional yet, such an inspiration to me was just inches away. We smiled, giggled, and hugged just like old friends. We asked each other how the other’s day was and then proceeded to introduce ourselves to one another (in that order). The two of us then grabbed our drinks and found a seat on the comfiest couch in the joint. Aisha and I sat and talked on that couch for two whole hours (Most of our conversation was just us gushing about how perfect the other was). It was as if we had been friends for years. As we started to get to know each other, we realized that yeah, both of us love fashion, food, and all things vintage, but we also have very similar values and goals. It really is insane that the two of us coincidentally came into the lives of one another. Well after sipping on our drinks for a good two hours, both of our stomachs started rumbling (when don’t they?). So we decided to take a pack up her family SVU and head to the ever-so-hipster Bricks restaurant in Ybor, where we engorged ourselves with hummus, pulled pork, and good conversation. It’s quite bizarre how quickly we connected. In two separate conversations each of us both told our friends how in love we were with each other, and then admitted saying these things to one another. To end our perfect blind date we headed to a vintage shop down the street where we tried on the most outrageous and unique outfits we could find.
It was a dream.
Who would have thought that two complete strangers could become such amazing friends in an afternoon? With anyone else it would have been simple to just part ways and never see each other again, but I think Aisha and I are soul sistas. Rarely do you meet an individual in which you see eye to eye, especially in such a coincidental circumstances. You never know what the future will entail, and who would have thought a thoughtless “click” on a touch screen would have lead to this huge ripple of events in my insignificant blip of existence. Something that our relationship has taught me is that it is so important that we pursue these connections and make an effort to get to know one another. As creepy as my stupid little email might have been, if it weren’t for that little leap of faith, Aisha and I would not be the best friends we are today. I mean, who knows if your best friend will be that person you glanced at walking down the sidewalk. As Frank Warren said, “Strangers are just people waiting to become friends” and it couldn’t be more true.
Make sure to check out the inspiration that made me start Solo Tandem Ride in the first place. Aisha and Jake make magic out of everything.