Meeting Julia

Meeting Julia

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

Meeting Julia

The language of friendship is not words but meanings.

~Henry David Thoreau

I was around ten years old when my pen pal craze started. I had always loved meeting new friends — I would try new activities to meet people and talk to people my age I saw in stores or other places. However, when I was ten, I wanted to make friends from other states. I thought it would be fun to communicate with people all over the country and learn new things about other places. I also thought writing letters might help with my writing, which was one of my favorite hobbies.

I told everyone I knew that I wanted a pen pal, but no one knew of any way that I could meet one. Then, one day, I found an online pen pal site where people could create a profile and find other pen pals who had similar interests. One girl was named Julia. She was ten years old and liked horseback riding, writing, and animals. She lived in Ohio. She sounded a lot like me, and I wanted to be pen pals with her.

That night I asked my parents if I could join the pen pal club. They told me I could as long as I didn’t give out any personal information and didn’t get my hopes up about meeting a pen pal in real life. I agreed, but I secretly thought I could get them to change their minds about the meeting.

The next day, as soon as I got online, I wrote Julia a letter describing myself and asking her if she wanted to be my pen pal. She wrote back saying that she would love to.

Julia and I talked about everything. I told her about novels I was writing, and she told me about her various publications. We told each other about horses we rode and good books we read. One time, Julia told me about a project she was working on about passing a law against horse slaughter in the U.S. She told me about the fashions and events in Ohio and I told her what was happening in Alabama.

Later, when we were twelve, we were both going through difficult times. I was bullied at school, causing me to have low self-esteem. Also, Julia took three sixth grade classes and three seventh grade classes. She had trouble fitting in with friends since she was caught between two grades. We stuck by each other through these times and gave each other support.

My writing skills also improved because of Julia. Not only did we write letters back and forth, but we wrote stories together. In June we signed up for Script Frenzy, a program in which writers all over the world write a twenty-thousand-word script in a month. We chose to write the script together. We didn’t finish our script, but we laughed a lot and became even better friends because of it.

My Bat Mitzvah was coming up on September 29th. A lot of camp friends and out-of-town family would be coming to it, and I wanted Julia to come too. My parents told me that I would never be able to meet a pen pal in real life, but Julia and I had been writing for almost three years and knew each other pretty well, so I decided to ask my parents if I could invite her to my Bat Mitzvah.

My parents said they would consider inviting Julia, but they wanted to talk to her parents first. They exchanged e-mails with her parents and eventually talked to them on the phone. After they had gotten to know each other well, my parents agreed to send Julia an invitation. Two weeks later, she RSVPed, and her answer was yes. Julia would be coming to visit me from September 28th to September 30th.

The Friday before my Bat Mitzvah, September 28th, I talked nonstop about Julia at school. I had only seen a few pictures of her, and they were from a year or so ago, so I wondered what she would look like. I wondered how she would act in person and if things would be the same between us in person as they were online and on the phone. I also became nervous about making a good first impression for her.

After school, Julia and I met at a restaurant. She looked a lot different than I had expected, but she was the same talkative, creative, fun person I had always known her to be. We talked a lot, laughed a lot, and after meeting, we went horseback riding together. It was one of the best days of my life.

At dinner that night, all of my family and out of town relatives ate with us. Julia enjoyed meeting my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Most of my family thought that we talked and laughed together as if we were life-long friends, and they were surprised when they found out that we had met just hours ago!

Saturday morning was the service. Julia got to participate in the ceremony by opening the ark, and it was fun to see her on the bema with me. We also had a blast at the Kiddush luncheon and the party. She had to leave Sunday, and I told her I would miss her a lot. We hugged each other goodbye and promised to keep in touch.

Now it is mid-March, and we have kept our promise. In November, we both wrote fifty-thousand-word novels for a program called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and edited each other’s novels. We write e-mails to each other almost every day and call each other every weekend. This summer, I plan to go to Ohio to visit Julia.

Julia is nice, smart, creative, funny, and such a great person. I am so happy that I got to meet her and know her. We’ll always be best friends.

~Emily Cutler

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