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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

British Invasion, Part 1: The Big Day

It all began one day last March with an incredibly moving comment left on my blog by a young woman in England named Emma grieving the loss of her fiance to DMD. E-mails, instant messages, and webcam conversations ensued, and we quickly became the best of friends. Soon after, Emma met Gary and I became friends with him as well. Not long after, Emma and Gary began making plans to visit me here in Philadelphia. This is part 1 in a series chronicling their visit...

I woke up this morning, excited that after 10 months of anticipation, I was finally going to the airport to pick up my friends. It was a good thing I got there early because the short-term parking lot closest to the international terminal could not accommodate my van's raised roof. We had to park two terminals down!

As I sat there in the international arrivals area, I started getting nervous. I had known Emma and Gary for many months and talked face-to-face with them via webcam, but would it be awkward when I actually met them in person? When they emerged through the sliding glass doors and Gary waved at me, I felt relief and excitement. My nurse and I went over to greet them and it wasn't awkward at all. We started talking and it was like we had picked up right where we had left off. As we headed for the van, they recounted being detained by customs over a box of strawberries!

We took the long way home to avoid traffic and to show off some of my favorite places in the city, like the boathouses along Kelly Drive. As we drove along, my friends munched on authentic Philly soft pretzels. I even remembered to bring mustard!

"These pretzels are fantastic!" Emma exclaimed. "We don't have anything like them in England." Indeed. Neither does the rest of the United States!

When we got back to my house, my friends were exhausted. It was 5 p.m. in Philadelphia, but 10 p.m. in England, after all. I was amazed that they were able to stay up at all, but they made it until about 8 p.m. I hope they sleep well because we have a busy day ahead of us!

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