For those of you following me on twitter, you might have seen my recent note about my “met him for the first time 15 years ago anniversary” posted on October 17th. But what I did not tweet was how that meeting took place. And what we celebrate on October 17th is the first day we met in person. But that is not really WHEN we met.
We met online. Well, 15 years ago, “Online” did not mean internet dating or Facebook. And Twitter was still only the sound birds made… But yes, we met online.
I arrived in Ireland as an exchange student that September and decided to live with an Irish lady who was renting out a room in her house near the university, rather than share a house with other French girls. The idea was that I would try and use my 9 months (know how that turned out!?) in Ireland to the maximum by integrating with the locals, and not mingling too much with the other foreign students. I joined a few socs (=clubs) at DCU (the university I was attending) with that same objective in mind. One of these was the Networking soc, called Redbrick.
I can tell you right away that I met some of the biggest geeks and best friends you can imagine through Redbrick.
As I mentioned above, it was a networking society, a linux-based “BBS” (bulletin board system) open only to the students of the university, with forums and newsgroups, etc… a pre-Facebook in some ways.
So, I networked 🙂 And within a few weeks, a pretty nice group of virtual “friends” had formed. I had barely touched a computer prior to that, except to type reports for high-school. And there I was, making friends with people I had never met. To me, in those first few and lonely weeks in Ireland, they were a lifeline. They accepted me without question, without judgement, and without even knowing what I looked like.
We all had nicknames on Redbrick… I was “Dauphin” (French for Dolphin, nickname derived from a bad pronunciation of my name by my baby brother way back when!) Others in the group went by names like “Duke” (who Mark still has online role-playing dates with quite regularly), “Soma”, “Carrot”, “Cammy”…
Finally, we decided to meet. For real. In persons. And I can only speak for myself, but that thought alone was scary. But we did it.
October 17th 1996.
Meeting point was “The Street”, a large covered passage-way outside DCU’s library. I was one of the first one there, and saw him (yes HIM) arrive. Was it love at first sight? Nope… It was actually quite embarrassing for both of us. Having spotted him, and figuring that he was one from the “gang”, I approached him, took one good look at his red hair, held my hand out and said “Hi, I’m Dauphin, you must be Carrot!”
He wasn’t… and didn’t like it one bit :/
So, my relationship with Cammy (yes, Mark), did not start on the most positive note. Especially given the fact that he was at the time very attracted to another girl in the group!
But, although it took some time (6 months but who’s counting), and a tiny weeny bit of stalking-ish behavior on the part of yours truly, eventually we could say, the rest is history. 15 years of it. And counting 🙂