So once upon a time, there was a beautiful and brilliant diabetic girl who spent 13 years holed up in her own world of academics, rocks, and sweet flour-y things. Despite being diagnosed at a very young age, she had never really known any other fun and enthusiastic kids with diabetes. She never went to camp (for reasons that are still unknown but mostly amount to too much studying) and never really participated in interactive outreach events (there were a few JDRF walks I vaguely remember as a kid and a couple of expos). One day (not too long ago), the light switch went on. There must be other people out there like me. People who live and breathe with music. People who bake things covered in real sugar. People who skydive, rock climb, and ride their bikes across the country. People who REALLY live life to the fullest in spite of a silly chronic condition. So she went hunting on the Internet and built a life. A persona. A circle of friends that she had never really met...
My very first "real" Diabetic meet up was the UNite for a Healthy Future event in NYC just a few weeks ago. But it was a little unusual. I met amazing and fantastic diabetics with crazy lives. People like who I had run into online that looked and sounded nothing like I would've expected. People who did make my eyes gleam like a fan girl despite my subdued manner. It was spectacular and I met all of these people who shared great stories and skills. People who didn't look at me funny when I tested my blood sugar or chomped down on glucose tabs.
My second and third Diabetic (swap-story)meets were JDRF walks. I did two in NJ along the shore. I met lots of families. I did pump bumps with kids. I met mom's and dad's who littered me with stories about how well or poorly their children with Diabetes were doing. I smiled and enjoyed the sun and answered questions.
Not to say that those moments weren't special and that I'll forget them, but this Sunday night was different. I was anxious. Excited. Teeming with energy. I wanted to run and jump and scream and shout. I was wandering into a big city by myself to meet just one stranger. One specific stranger. A stranger who anyone (and everyyyyyyyone) could tell was special in the way he related to others. In the way he spoke. In the way he tweeted song lyrics. I had seen a lot of his posts on Twitter and said to myself, "He's way too awesome. Why would he care what I have to say." But I think he's already demonstrated in his short time stateside that what I (and every other diabetes blogger) do matters.
I knew he was meeting up with people in Kansas City. I didn't even know he was going to be in NYC until a week ago. Already signed up for a 4 day conference in Hartford, I knew I was going to miss the bowling extravaganza. I, for some reason, assumed he was leaving on Sunday before I'd be back in NJ. And then, on a whim, I tweeted him. And he responded. And said he was leaving Monday. And my adrenaline kicked in.
He called and my knees shook in the wind (like a well composed fan girl). "I'll be the one with an accent," he nonchalantly concluded with. I didn't need to ask for clarification. After seeing a picture (or several dozen) and hearing his voice (both on the phone and on a DSMA webcast), I didn't have a hard time placing him. He just looked different. More alive. Less pixel-y. Thinner and taller. And I instantly felt less alone.
I don't really know how to describe the rest of the evening. We just grabbed coffee, sat in Times Square, and talked like we were new-but long lost friends. I sat there in awe of him and he just kept telling me how smart I was.
AND to top it off, I got meet Caroline (@carobanano) who I can only describe as PURE sunshine. She reminds me of my favorite roommate from college. Singing at the top of her lungs (she has a fantastic voice in case you didn't know). I'm definitely planning to go back and see her in Brooklyn. I already have a teeny-weeny SURPRISE present for her.
Like the three sugar-free Musketeers: We soaked in the lights. We posed with Batman. We made funny faces. We grabbed dinner at the Ruby Tuesday's in Times Square (and died a happy death over their cheese biscuits). We discussed music (the difference between Coldplay and the Cure). We rushed for trains that weren't quite there (neither my roommate nor I can appropriately read a weekend timetable). We just laughed (at Shhs and Soda-names) and enjoyed each other's companies. I savored each moment.
Looking at us, you'd never know we had diabetes. You'd just think we were friends. And now, that's all I ever have to say we are. (And friends will ALWAYS see each other again. One way or another).