August, 2016. I’m sitting in a pub in St. Paul, Minnesota, glancing past my laptop screen and a pint of Guinness at my husband’s jovial expression. He’s very jovial after a few beers; he thinks he’s funny (which is usually true), and since I’ve told him I’m in no mood for distractions, he’s resorted to texting our friend in Tennessee.
Tennessee is about the closest any of our friends lived anymore. My husband and I studied abroad in our senior year of college, made friends, and when the term ended everyone scattered across the US and the globe. We’d kept up through Facebook, Snapchat, and occasional video calls, but it’d been almost a year since we graduated and we had few people to share our beers or our jollity with in person besides ourselves. A few other friends from college were around, but busy with new jobs and relationships. Social media must have some answers for us, I thought, so I went on a mission that night to find them. And I ran across Hey! VINA.
I’m not one to jump on every social media hype – I’m even a little slow when it comes to grooming my online presence. When I added Hey! VINA to my phone, I didn’t know how useful it would be. I was skeptical that my profile on the app would be enough to make other women want to meet me; but I appreciated the personality quiz, the emoji section, the chance to link my Instagram (my favorite social media outlet), and the way that the app let me represent so many different aspects of myself. Swiping right on another person freaked me out at first – but only I realized how excited I was to meet some of these women!
One of my first Hey! VINA matches was a woman named Joanne. Joanne worked in university administration like me, and her first Instagram photo showed a long aisle lined with books. I figured we could get along. Since she had newly arrived in my city, I thought I could have fun showing her my favorite places. Further, Joanne said she liked to bake, and I am always interested in the potential for cookies. So I said hello.
Every once in a while, you do something a little scary and a little spontaneous, and you wrap up a bunch of nerves and hope and self-doubt and optimism into it, and you realize later that you made a huge win. Saying hey to Joanne was a win. She wrote back; she’d be happy to meet me; she wondered where we could go. Cake? Yes. Cafe Latte, Grand Avenue. Thursday – or wait, that doesn’t work. Tuesday. Yes, Tuesday. Cafe Latte. See you then!
So we had cake for dinner on our first date. I could make several puns here about cake, sweetness, friendship, etc, but I’ll save you. An hour and a half of animated conversation later, Joanne and I exchanged phone numbers and determined we would meet again in a few weeks for a “Drunk Spelling Bee” at a local pub – because who doesn’t want to drink beer while showing off mad spelling skills?! And, we decided, we would drag along our significant others to make it a double date.
The Rest is History
As promised, a few weeks later we all met to embarrass ourselves in front of a crowd. (At least, most of us would embarrass ourselves – my husband handily won the night’s spelling bee, winning us more beer than we could drink. Wanting to remember the night, though, we gave much of it away!) We chatted for hours, we enjoyed the night, we thought of many more things to do together. As it turned out, Joanne’s boyfriend and my husband both majored in history in college, so they had plenty to talk about. And we talked, that night and many other nights, and days on long walks in the cold of a Minnesota autumn, around lakes, along rows of houses, in our homes, and over coffee and chocolate croissants. And yes, as of last weekend, I did get some cookies out of the deal.
I could not have guessed, six months ago, that a couple I’d never met before would become good friends with my husband and I by year’s end. I, for one, can’t wait to see what lies in 2017 for our friendship, and I think all of us are deeply grateful for meeting each other and for the other friends we’ve now made through Hey! Vina. What made it work? For one thing, our personalities fit well – and that’s a big deal. But there are some other elements to this relationship as well that others might find helpful in their own Hey! VINA ventures.
Why it Worked
Joanne and I get along: I find it easy to talk to her, we have no trouble thinking of things to do together, and we’re interested in similar pursuits. We had to get to this point somehow, though, so how did we do it? I think one of the most important answers is that we both took initiative. I messaged Joanne soon after we matched, introducing myself and clearly stating my desire to meet her in person rather than dragging out a long conversation on our phones. At the end of our first date, Joanne identified our next date and two possible times for it, then texted me to remind me that I should talk to my husband about which time worked. That’s partly our personalities, but I know I wouldn’t have taken this kind of initiative even a couple years ago, and that initiative (from both me and her) is what kept us meeting up with each other and providing us space to connect.
Another reason Hey! VINA worked for us is because we both kept an open mind in our conversations, in our understanding of each other, and in our plans to see each other. Because we both had the attitude that anything can be fun with friends, we were (or at least, I was) more creative about what activities we could do together, and those activities provided an environment in which we could grow our friendship. We’ve also mixed things up, hanging out one-on-one, on double dates with our significant others, and with larger groups of friends. That variety has allowed us to keep getting to know each other in new ways and has kept our friendships from falling into an early rut.
Of course, August wasn’t so long ago, so I’m excited to continue getting to know Joanne and her boyfriend, and I’m sure we’ll continue to appreciate Hey! Vina’s role in getting us started. Meanwhile, we’re also busy swiping, matching, and starting conversations on the app!