Sunday, February 27, 2011
Manchester Is My Heaven Pt II: People We Met
This visit to England had plenty of 'new' aspects to it...new area visited, first time visit to Old Trafford; we even flew into a new airport! But one of the things that had made this trip 'new,' was also largely what made it so special. Our friends.
Through Twitter, I have been lucky enough to 'meet' supporters of Manchester United from around the world. My Twitter friends hail from India, Singapore, Portugal, Australia, Indonsesia, Ireland (and of course, England), just to name a few! After talking with some of them for almost a year, I was finally going to get to see the real, live them. It's a bit difficult to describe how significant and unique this is. When you to talk to someone so much, almost every single day, you can't help but feel incredibly connected to them. Even if it's only via computer. For me, it's still a little startling (in a good way!) how close I am to my friends who are thousands of miles away.
As I describe my friends, I'll use their Twitter handles - to protect the innocent, of course! ;)
After we completely destroyed City (ahem), we made our way to the Trinity Statue in front of Old Trafford to meet some of our amazing Twitter friends. After some initial hugging and "I can't believe it's!!" we made our way to Sam Platts' Pub. I have to admit, it felt a little silly introducing myself as 'Red Mama!' But as I matched up user names with real names and Twit-personalities with faces, all the sheepish grins and awkwardness disappeared. I hugged every one of my darling 'tweeps' with the wholehearted joy of embracing a long lost friend.
There was RATompkins, one of my favorites on Twitter. He's always the first one to say good morning, never shies away from his own opinion, and has a wicked sense of humor. And did I mention he loves Star Wars and Harry Potter, too? I could kick myself for not spending more time with him, but I am very happy that I at least got a hug from my favorite chef.
DoronSolomon came up to Manchester from London with yolkie_ and MrsYolkie. Poor Doron, on crutches from a recent surgery. (Although he might have considered himself lucky; I restrained myself from too much hugging because I didn't want to knock him over!) The Yolkies have recently gotten married in our mutual favorite place, Walt Disney World. The Mrs and I share a love of cupcakes and all things Disney. She loves America as much as I love England, so it might have happened that we were born in the wrong place! After our many wonderful chats, it was so good to finally meet her! She was as beautiful as she is nice. As for her husband, he is the founder of 7 Cantonas and False10 websites. Another one I didn't get to talk to as much as I would have liked, but he and my husband discussed football from one end to the other! I think they had a great time trading perspectives on the beautiful game.
There was another Orlando enthusiast in our crowd that evening, none other than PhilGatt. Loving, hard-working, down-to-earth husband, father, and United fan - I have truly enjoyed getting to know him through Twitter, and it was amazing to get to meet him in person. And, exactly as I had imagined, he had a wonderful, infectious smile. He had lost his voice shouting for United at the match, which just goes to show he works as hard at being a United fan as he does for everything else he does. :)
As I was chatting, a wonderful, exuberant blonde came up to me, "Hi! I'm Ellie!!" Known as 16Ellie on Twitter, this lady was full of energy and Manchester United enthusiasm. It was impossible not to be the same around her! She also introduced me to Almanuman, a tall, distinguished gentleman with a very welcoming manner. They both conveyed a great sense of belonging to this Yank girl.
And then there was HappyHero. Where can I begin with this guy? Only one way -- Winkbang! (sorry, little inside joke, there.) And that pretty much sums this one up. Anytime he and I are on Twitter at the same time, you can be sure I am laughing. His quick wit is a sure-fire way to make you LOL. ;) But behind this funny guy lurks a heart of gold. During my ticket fiasco, he offered me his, and his kindness is something I will never forget. Thankfully, I didn't have to rob him of seeing the spectacular Rooney bicycle kick, but I was incredibly touched no matter.
They always say "small world," or "6 degrees of separation," positing that we're all connected in some way. This was never more evident than when we met Manutdot. First of all, let me say, this guy was the only one who was nothing like I'd imagined!! For some reason, I had darker hair and not as tall in my head. But, he was definitely as nice in person as he is on Twitter. He actually contacted United to put our names in the match program(me) as first time visitors to Old Trafford from the States! What an incredible keepsake. After the match as we were talking, we came to find out that he not only works for the same company as my husband's best friend from university, but he actually knows him!! Small, small world! We went to college in the one of the smallest states in the Union, the University of Delaware. To travel all the way to England, happen to meet a friend from Twitter, who happens to work with our friend? Total shock. And to say we got along well with Darren is an understatement. I (and especially my husband) really enjoyed his company, and we hope to see him every time we visit Manchester, and of course, if he ever travels to the States.
Meeting TreacleTart99 and Moscow21508 was like opening a gift that you didn't know you were getting, and it turns out to be exactly what you wanted. I wasn't sure what their plans were, and hoped they'd make it to the 'tweetup.' She might be surprised to learn this, but after becoming her friend on Twitter, I was a bit in awe of Treacs. She was just so funny and confident - it sounds cheesy, but I thought she was really cool! And when I met her in person, she was exactly the same. And, of course, completely genuine and kind as well. Moscow was the same. Funnily enough, during the match they took a photograph of the stand we were sitting in. They had no idea where our seats were, but after working it out looking at my pictures, they have a shot of us in the stands! Another fantastic memento of our trip to Old Trafford. We were extremely grateful to have met them both and spent time with them. Laughing and getting to know the two of them was a highlight of our trip.
I don't even know where to begin with SparklyDevil and Luzhniki2008. Because of them, this trip felt less like a tourist's journey and more like coming home to visit family. We have become indescribably close during my time on Twitter, discussing everything and anything under the sun. Our likes and dislikes are so similar and we are so like-minded in our values and priorities - I really mean the word when I call them family. They made us feel that way, nothing less. From dinners, to playing chauffeur and tour guide, the experience of having these two share their city with us was nothing less than magnificent. I know I have used a lot of superlatives in this post, but I don't know of any to describe how authentic, generous and kind-hearted these two people are. My gratitude for having them in my life (now and always) knows no bounds.
And, of course, last but certainly not least, we met Mike and Damon. Mike is SomersetReds' dad, and he and Damon met us outside Old Trafford to give us tickets to the match. Not only were they bestowing on us something akin to a golden ticket, but they seemed genuinely happy to be helping us. After giving us the tickets, Mike gave me an incredibly sweet smooch on the cheek and said how nice it was to meet me. I loved him :)
Going to Manchester is intrinsically momentous for a Red. But going to Manchester and having the pleasure and honor of meeting these people made the whole experience that much more special. You all have become so much more than names on a computer screen. Thank you for making our trip one we will never forget.
We can't forget to mention Blissbubbley, Spursboy, and the artist formerly known as MsMozza. We didn't catch up with them this time around, but you can bet I'm making sure of it next time we're in Manchester!