My best friend lives across the country

Picture+of+the+Skype+logo%2C+which+is+where+I+first+met+Jack.

Picture of the Skype logo, which is where I first met Jack.

John Shay, Editor

Best friend is an endearing term saved for some of the people that are closest to you. Typically, a best friend is someone who you grow up with, go to school with, and do all your activities with. What doesn’t usually come to mind when thinking about a best friend is someone who lives across the country from you, but that is what comes to mind when I think about one of my best friends. 

About five years ago, on a summer day, I woke up early and opened up my laptop to play Minecraft. While playing, I met someone that went by the username “awesomejwr.” It started with us just playing a few different games on Minecraft together, but we eventually exchanged Skype information so we could talk to each other while we played.

I won’t lie, I was nervous when we first Skype called. It was audio only, and I had been warned by my parents about the dangers of talking to strangers online, but I was still nervous as a young kid.

When I heard someone on the other line start talking and realized it was the voice of another kid, I relaxed a little bit. We started having conversations with each other and eventually, he told me his name was Jack and I told him mine was John. 

Naturally, his parents wanted to meet me as did mine with him, just to make sure we were actually kids. After that exchange, both Jack and I became more comfortable around each other knowing that we weren’t talking to a predator. 

After playing with each other for a few months, we realized we had many things in common. He listened to older bands like Steely Dan because his dad introduced him to that music, and oddly enough, I also listened to Steely Dan because of my dad. We also both played the drums in our free time. 

One of the biggest things that brought us together was the fact that Jack used to live in Downers Grove before moving away to Florida as a child. We both rooted for the same sports teams, we both could talk about the Chicago area, and we both had a love for the Chicago area. However, the most promising part of him having lived in Chicago was that his family still came up to visit the city every once in a while, which posed the possibility that some day we could meet each other. 

Still, that thought was a shot in the dark and really wasn’t much of a plausible possibility at the time anyways.

After playing Minecraft for about a year, we both made the switch to playing Xbox with each other. Before switching to Xbox, I had never played an FPS (First Person Shooter) game before as I was still on the younger side, but the game Jack played the most on Xbox was Rainbow Six Siege, an FPS game. 

After doing a lot of pleading and convincing with my parents, I was finally allowed to get the game. I slowly started to become good at the game, and Jack and I would play nearly every day we could. 

We became closer and closer friends every day that we played together. 

Around two years later, Jack started to play on PC (personal computer), and I soon followed as I had always wanted to play on PC but never had a friend to play with. We bought Rainbow Six Siege on PC along with other games like Counter Strike and began to play together.

Although playing games with each other was a blast, there was always a looming question: When would we be able to meet each other in real life? 

We had been extremely close friends for a while now, and we were both eager to meet each other in real life. I knew exactly what he looked like, as he did I, since we had each other on Snapchat, so the only thing left was for us to meet face to face.

We began to talk to our parents about a possible plan for Jack to come up to visit, and finally, in December of 2019, Jack texted me that he would be coming up in the summer of 2020. I was so excited, and immediately told my parents, who were happy for me that I would finally be able to meet him.

About a month later, Jack sent me a text that he had in fact been lying to me about coming up in the summer, but was instead coming up as soon as March. This made me even more excited, as I would only have to wait a couple of months rather than waiting until summer to finally meet Jack. However, what would happen next was completely unexpected.

It was a cold January night, the 24th to be exact, and my good friend Brandan hit me up to hang out with our friends Brendan and Alex. We had talked about hanging out that day the week prior, so I made sure I was free that day. Brandan picked me up that night and we proceeded to pick up Brendan and Alex.

We had originally planned to go eat at Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, but Brandan said he wanted to drive around for a little bit and listen to music, which wasn’t unusual for us to do. We drove around like normal for a little while, but eventually Brandan got on the highway towards downtown. 

I knew my mom didn’t want me downtown that late at night, and so I immediately started telling Brandan I couldn’t go downtown because my mom would get mad at me. He reassured me that he had already talked to my parents and they said it was okay, which at the time I thought was just him playing around to get me to ease up. 

He eventually took an exit and we started seeing signs for Midway Airport. I was extremely confused at the time, but started to have my suspicions as to what was happening because a mutual friend of Jack and I had almost spoiled Jack’s surprise earlier in the day. However, I was still mostly unsuspecting as everyone had played it off that Jack was visiting his family elsewhere, which he did a lot so I was not suspicious. 

After about 20-30 minutes of driving, we finally pulled up to one of the airport gates. Brandan got out of the car and told the rest of us to wait in the car. I immediately started to question both Brendan and Alex, who were sitting in the back of the car, but they refused to tell me anything besides to just wait and see. 

After Brandan had disappeared for about five minutes, we finally saw him walking out of the doors, but behind him was someone I never thought I’d see that night. Behind Brandan walked out Jack. I immediately got out of the car. 

All I really remember in the moment was him screaming “I’m here bro!” and us immediately hugging for what felt like two minutes. I was so surprised that the only thing I could really say was “How!” After we were finally done bear hugging, we both got in Brandan’s car and started to show Jack around our area. 

After showing him all of the places we usually went to hang out, and a lot of surprise and disbelief still coming from me, we eventually went back to my house, where my parents were waiting for us to arrive.

Jack and the rest of my friends slept over that night, and we ordered a pizza to eat for dinner. There were a lot of laughs and not much sleep to be had that night, but eventually everyone had gotten some sleep. 

We eventually all woke up the next morning and went to breakfast before dropping Brendan and Alex off at their homes. Jack said his goodbyes to them as they went out, and then Brandan dropped Jack and I back off at my house before he himself said goodbye and went home. 

We only stayed at my house for about 20 minutes before I had to drive Jack to the train station so he could meet his family downtown. We stood outside in the cold at the train station for what seemed like hours due to his train delaying over and over, but it didn’t matter to us as we wanted to spend as much time as possible together before he had to fly back home. 

Eventually, his train came, and the goodbye felt like a scene from a movie as he got onto his train. The only thing keeping us from getting emotional was knowing that he would be able to visit again soon, next time for longer, though COVID-19 has delayed that from happening.

I found out soon after that my parents had coordinated with my friends that were there that night and Jack to perfectly orchestrate the surprise. I am forever grateful for the time and effort everyone put into that night to make it possible for me to meet my friend.

When I met a random kid five years ago playing Minecraft, I never would have imagined he would become one of my best friends, much less that I would meet him in real life some day. However, that kid did become one of my best friends, and I did meet him in real life, and it was all thanks to a game of Minecraft and a Skype call.