This is a story Robin and I repeated countless of times to his and my various circles of friends last weekend. Sometimes he starts and I finish. Sometimes I tell the first half and he tells the other half. I have to tell it on my own now, because he is currently in a plane somewhere flying back to New York.
Robin and I met 20 years ago. His family came over to Kuching from their hometown of Ipoh to host a children’s camp organised by my church. Some months or years after they left, Robin wrote me a letter. I wrote back. It went on through primary school and secondary school, then slowed when he moved to KL and then to Boston to study.
It stopped for a while. Then we found each other online, did the email thing, and connected on IRC during the earlier years of the Internet. Currently we both blog, but mostly we see each other on MSN when our time overlaps.
For years, we talked about meeting up again, but it wasn’t easy when he’s in America and I’m in Malaysia. I always said that whenever he gets to come back, I’ll get on a plane and come to him.
The first time we met, I was 10 and he was 8. The “before” picture is not entirely accurate. It’s just the closest ones to 1988 that I can find. Mine was taken in 1986 and his came together with one of his letters in 1990. (He’ll probably kill me when he sees this, but he’s pretty far away by now.)
This is us at 30 and 28 respectively, taken on April 19 in the driveway of the house I’ve been sending all those letters to. We’ve sure grown.
What can I say about finally meeting someone who have been a pen pal, a net pal, a great pal and an overall rock for 20 years? I find it all a bit hard to describe. He’s every bit as lovely in person as he is in text, and a lot more. I wish we had a little more time together, but the little time we did have was good enough for me.