The above has risen to the top of “Best Picture Ever.” The guy in the blue sweatshirt is my husband. The one playing the role of Kate Winslet in “Titanic”is Carl, someone I am so happy to count among my dearest friends. The thing is, I’ve never met Carl in person.
Five years ago I clicked into a never-ending black hole of links that took me to a site where bloggers could post their work. (Interestingly, to prove how completely obscure this site was it no longer exists.) I posted something and within a few minutes I got a like and a comment from a complete stranger. I instantly cyber-pounced on this poor unsuspecting person, and tried to engage him in conversation. He took the bait, probably a bit warily wondering why I was so overzealous and probably thinking I had no friends, and we took our conversation offline and into gmail chat. In looking back on these chats and e-mails from 2011 I can tell by the way he signed off, with a “Cheers,” or a “Take care” or a “I look forward to reading your work,” that he wasn’t nearly excited as I was about this surreal and serendipitous way we found each other. It wasn’t until I dazzled him with my humor that he realized, “Oh what the fuck. She’s not a raving lunatic with no friends. I’ll give it a go.”
Carl lives in England with his stunning fiance and gorgeous teenage daughter. He shared some of his writing with me, words that nobody else had seen at that point, and it was truly some of the funniest and most poignant writing I have ever read. He deflected my compliments onto me and created a Power Point titled “Gayle Saks: Mission Get Famous.” He calls me “Jewess.”
Our friendship has evolved into layers on top of layers. It has turned into Skype drinking sessions, one in which my husband became the drunkest I had ever seen him(with the time difference he and his fiance are troupers in their ability to persevere after a night out in a pub) and now includes an e-mail and social media friendship between our daughters who are the same age. During one of these Skype sessions Carl held up a piece of paper to the camera letting us know that he was going to propose the following week. And, in the most beautiful gesture I’ve ever been on the receiving end of, a brand new dvd player showed up on our doorstep when he found out ours had broken. When my husband and I opened the card, we gasped, and got teary eyed.
The simulated love fest on the Titanic happened a little over a month ago when my husband was in Belfast for a month on business. It was a no-brainer that Carl and family would fly over for the weekend so they could finally meet. I was very envious, and still am, but that love you see above, that comfort, is very real. When they met each other it was exactly what we knew it would be–perfect. My husband called me immediately gushing about them and got off the phone quickly because they had booked a very busy weekend. They face-timed me from a pub and even though I could barely hear a word it was so incredible to see them in the same place with my husband as opposed to on the opposite sides of a computer screen. When they left to fly back home, my husband called me in tears.
In some of the happiest news I’ve gotten in a long time, Carl and his family have decided to spend a week with us in Boston. There are no words to describe how excited I am (I’ve been having a recurring dream that they get here and feel like it’s a bait and switch and they hate me.) We’re getting a cot so our daughters can sleep in the same room, we’ll be hosting a dinner party for them and cramming in as much of New England as we possibly can. I know I won’t be able to hold it together as I hug them all for the first time.
I’m not sure Carl realizes how special he has become to me. If you didn’t, you do now.