About a month ago I did something I thought I possibly wouldn’t do and that was literally go meet a friend I met through the internet. I know in modern times meeting someone you met online isn’t such a big deal; we use the internet for various reasons and sometimes people are scheduled to meet bosses online or meet a date via dating apps. This was a little different though because I’ve been friends with this individual for five years.
How did I meet this strange man, YouTube, I discovered his videos back in 2012 and was just starting acrylic painting, and somehow I ended up in a live art hangout and chatting with him and other artists. This led to him giving a few tips on how to improve my abilities as an artist and…a friend request on Facebook.
From my side of the friendship, I did my best to stay as professional as possible when it began. I didn’t even look up his personal Facebook out of respect for his privacy. And post friend request we stayed fairly professional (sorta). It was neat discovering he was also catholic, a little fun making him guess my sexual orientation, and so worth it upgrading from liquitex basic and Apple Barrel brand paints to Golden acrylic paints and Liquitex Professionals.
About three years into our friendship and numerous video calls the topic of meeting in real life popped up; because I was working on a degree I felt it would be best to postpone the meeting until I had a degree and stable income.Then came life issues, and then I landed a job at a call center. Working at the call center was not a happy experience, but I motivated myself through it all by reminding myself that I was saving money to meet this strange man on the internet.
Who is This Mystery Man?
So first thing is first, my friend Ben is not gay, he’s straight. Despite what some family members thought this was not one expensive hookup, this literally was me visiting and meeting a friend. He runs the YouTube channel Cinder Block Studios where he gives painting tutorials on techniques with acrylic paint.
He’s a great painter and I have learned a lot from him over the years (even if it looks like I’m just screwing around). He’s pretty cool, younger than he looks, younger than me by a few months, is older than me mentally (like 98% of the time), taller than me, makes amazing cocktails, and cooks some of the best food I’ve ever tasted (I damaged a temporary filling on his porkchop. It was worth it).
How was Your Vacay?
It was great, I actually found myself relaxing so much more than I have in a long time. I had time to sit down and fully have thoughts to myself and not have to focus on other needs in life. It was a little strange being the minority, but I got over it pretty fast.
I also went to confession and had a lifelong paranoia of “do I even look Mexican American?” put to rest when the priest at his church spoke to me in Spanish. I also got to a Blicks art store, it was interesting to go to an art store that specified solely on art and not branch into other ventures like crafts. I also got to drag Ben to two bookstores and give him an idea of what it’s like when I go shopping for books and what kind of books I like.
Pittsburgh is a beautiful city with nature and art, way too many hills though. But seeing so many trees and at times being tempted to explore the small forests close to Ben’s house just to seclude myself from the world a little more than I normally do.
One of my favorite places to see was The Cathedral of Learning where each room is dedicated to a different culture. It may have been a coincidence that the day I went was the grand opening of the room for The Philippines, but I think it’s a nice way of being reminded that even if I traveled to a different state and different time zone that a little piece of home would find a way to be near me.
I also met Ben’s family who are all very kind and hospitable people. Also yes Ben is straight, I know reading this sort of sounds like a shitty romcom, but it’s not!
Science Friction, Doctor Who Meets Stargate SG1
So one idea I had thrown out before all of this was set in stone was both of us showing each other one of our favorite movies that the other hadn’t seen. Somehow this turned into showing each other episodes of Doctor Who (Listen, Demons of the Punjab, The New Earth, The Day of the Doctor, Vincent and the Doctor) and Stargate SG1; (1969, Window of Opportunity, Revisions, 200, Upgrades) We also showed each other movies (He showed me Midnight in Paris and Coming to America, I showed him Crazy Rich Asians and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).
It was very nice to see how we would react to our favorite shows; he thought Peter Capaldi was an amazing Doctor and really liked Fantastic Beasts, he wasn’t so into Crazy Rich Asians. I very much enjoyed Stargate SG1 and started watching the series on Hulu. I do have thoughts on Coming to America and may write an essay comparing that film to Crazy Rich Asians along with some realizations as to why I love CRA.
So this was one of the cool things about my trip was painting. Both of us did get time to sit down and paint with each other; I didn’t have anything planned or feel a type of inspiration so I did some simple abstract art that was shockingly impressive. I also created alot of eyes because it’s my go to doodle whenever trying a new medium.
Like I said earlier having some private time to think, read, and paint helped me at the very least experiment with colors and shapes. Also I popped up in two of his youtube videos.
Tell me about your adventures, have you ever met a stranger on the internet just for fun (the PG kind)?