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Meeting My Internet Friend

For me,the only activity that I enjoy anywhere near as much as creating hearts with polymer clay is surfing the internet. I love following newsgroups relating to polymer clay, sharing information and techniques, and meeting fellow polymer clay artists from around the world.

I have made many good friends online, but there was one in particular who seemed so much like me (even in appearance!) that I began calling her my "cyber-twin." With each email our friendship grew, and we began supplementing our e-messages with live phone calls. Shelly extended an open invitation to come spend a few days with her at her home in Vancouver,Washington, so we could get to know each other better. For months,financial issues prevented me from accepting. But then my polymer clay heart business on PhotoPoint became quite successful, and I finally was able to take a week off from my "real" job, and make the trip from San Jose.

At the airport, Shelly and I recognized each other immediately. She was just as gracious as she was online, if not more so, and she looked more like my sister than my own sister! She had an exciting itinerary planned for us. We would do some sightseeing, and visit some of her favorite restaurants. She would introduce me to some artist friends of hers who are VIP's in the polymer clay world, and we would have a glorious time sharing our clay techniques and learning from each other in her home studio. Little did we know that fate had a different plan for us.

She had timed my visit for when her husband would be out of town on business, so that she would have no other responsibilities or distractions. We would have the time entirely to ourselves so that we could get to know each other uninterrupted. I had arrived on Monday afternoon. By early evening Shelly had developed a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. I suggested we run out to a drug store to buy some zinc lozenges. They have always seemed to work for me, in reducing the misery and length of a cold, and I prayed they would have the same effect for her.

For Shelly,the lozenges were of no benefit all. By that evening she was sneezing and coughing. During the night she developed chills, a throbbing headache, raspy cough, and sick stomach. I awoke Tuesday morning to find my host feverish and miserably ill with the flu.

What a predicament she was in - an out-of-state houseguest who was technically still a stranger, her husband out of town, and she feeling like death warmed over! My heart went out to her. I couldn't imagine myself in that same situation.

What could I do? Perhaps she wanted to be alone. I could have scheduled an early flight home. She was so ill, though, I thought it might be a good idea if I stayed.. It was an easy decision. I would stay if she still wanted me to, be her nurse, if she needed me, and perhaps we might even salvage something positive from my visit. Happily, she agreed to have me stay.

For the next two and-a-half days, I was there when and if she needed me. I have never seen anyone feeling so rotten try so hard to still be the gracious host! She spent a good deal of time in bed, and as she rested, I busied myself with my own art projects in her studio nearby. A few times she crept into her studio, made a feeble attempt to roll some clay, and soon retreated back to her bed.

By Thursday evening she was finally starting to feel a little better. Though she was pale and weak, we were able to spend some time updating my PhotoPoint album and finally claying together . Shelly's talents with clay are multi-faceted, but hearts are her specialty. It was an experience I savored, working side-by-side in the studio of this dear friend whom I had just met, each creating our own special kind of hearts, sharing with and learning from each other. This would be the essence of my visit. What should have been a five-day adventure would be condensed into these few precious hours.

The time wasn't wasted We each produced some of our very best work! I had an idea. We would trade with each other some of the canes we had made, and she would use my clay to make hearts with her technique, while I would use her cane to make hearts with my technique! She went along, just to be agreeable, I think, but the result was fascinating - true kindred hearts!

Friday afternoon, and it was time to leave. Shelly by then was just well enough to drive me to the airport.

Along the way, she apologized for having been an "awful" host! I reassured her that she indeed had been a great host, considering the circumstances, and what was most important had been accomplished. We had cemented a friendship that will endure for the rest of our lives.

Miraculously, I managed to dodge the flu bullet. Even if I had become sick, it would have been well worth it. I feel so blessed having Shelly Crossen for a friend, that feeling miserable for a few days would be a very small price to pay.

Elissa Powell
© November, 2000

We'd like to thank Elissa for sharing her lovely story of friendship with Polymer Clay Central. And remember, if YOU have a story or article, or a lesson or tutorial that you would like to share at PCC, just email Leigh or Stephen or Sunni and we will help you prepare your project for the PCC Website!

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