So much has happened since I got back from Italy in June. I’ve been meaning to sit and write it all down for awhile. I’m going to start with my trip to New Jersey back in July. First, I’m going to have to give some back story.

Back in high school, my two best friends introduced me to the world known as the View Askewniverse. A world created by director/writer/all around sensational man, Kevin Smith. We all fell in love with this world of witty characters and felt like we could relate in our own way to it all.

Now fast forward about 7 years to 2008. We all have graduated high school and I am just starting my second tour in the Navy stationed in Italy. I had been on deployment for 7 and 1/2 months in 2007 and missed the beginnings of SModcast. My boss (who is also a big Kevin Smith and View Askew fan) introduces me to SModcast. As I listened, it was like I was reintroduced to Kevin again. This time as the man, rather than as Silent Bob. I also had picked up two of his three books, My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith and Shootin’ the Sh*t with Kevin Smith: The Best of the SModcast. Reading and listening along Kevin mentions the View Askew Board a number of times. I had seen it back before I went on deployment and meant to join, but it just didn’t happen, In February of 2009, I joined and my life has absolutely and forever changed for the better.

I have talked to and cultivated friendships with so many wonderful people. I feel as though I found my people (especially after NJ, but I’ll get to that later). Just having one thing in common (at first) to come together on a message board and feel as though I have lifelong friends and people that I can always count on is the absolute greatest thing.

After about a year of being on the board and talking with my good friend, Gerry, I started making plans to visit him in Czech Republic where he lives with his family. Soon after that, another Boardie, named Simon joined the mix and I was planning my first VA meetup! Things came together beautifully and my friend, Lynette and I had a wonderful two week vacation. First visiting Brno and Prague with Simon and Gerry, and continuing onto Dresden and Berlin, Germany.

I spent just about a week with Simon and a few days with Gerry, and that alone had me hyped up for when I was to return stateside after my 3 year tour.

There’s a group of us that play a little game that we like to call Mafia and there was a thread on what is now known as Version 2 of the Board where a group of people came together. It’s now a very notorious aspect of Board history, but not many people understand that underneath the exterior that they perceived, was a close knit group of people that still haven’t fallen by the wayside of each other.

We had movie nights along with a chat room. We would host video chats. People could (and still can) be counted on no matter what the situation. It was in these chats that I grew to know some of the group of people. In the video chats, especially, because we could just talk to each other. One of the very best days was my birthday in 2010. I took the day off of work and was going through quite a rough time. These people stayed on video chat with me throughout the day to make sure that I had a good birthday, even if I didn’t really move from the computer.

Fast forward to June 2011. I have just come home from my tour in Italy and I receive a wedding invitation in the mail from Gavin and Nikki. Even though, I think we talked about it, I was still so awed to receive one as I hadn’t even met them yet! This is how awesome the VA community is. Relationships can be cultivated to such a point that it’s hard to imagine that these people weren’t always in your life.

So on July 7th (also my final day in the Navy), I was on an airplane heading towards Newark International Airport where Simon was picking up myself and another Boardie friend of ours, Cindy. We were heading to Red Bank, New Jersey to celebrate the wedding of Gavin and Nikki. The events surrounding my visit and the wedding will be continued in my next post.