Woman spends two years searching for her old friend: Joe from Wellington
A woman has spent two years searching for her long-lost friend named Joe, and is now appealing to the public for help finding him.
American Lissa Carlino, a writer, met the Wellington man at the Union Square Hostel in San Francisco in December 1998, almost twenty years ago, and found an instant friend.
She was 19, he was about 21, and the pair spent the week exploring the City by the Bay, seeing a psychic, visiting record stores, and shopping.
"I just felt comfortable with him. He was really quiet, very very quiet, but some people you just click with... he had very kind eyes."
Carlino said while the story would make a good romance novel, their relationship was only ever platonic.
When they left each other, Joe presented her with a copy of the Booker Prize winning novel The Bone People, by Kiwi Keri Hulme, with an inscription.
A few months later Joe came to stay with Carlino, nee Waller, in her hometown in Minnesota, even meeting her parents.
The years passed by, and in 2013 Carlino and her husband ended up moving to Khandallah, Wellington, from Vermont.
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She wanted to reach out to Joe to meet up, but realised she didn't have his up-to-date contact details, or his surname, only an old email address.
At a loss, she started the blog Where is Joe Wellington in 2013, in an attempt to meet up with her old friend.
Initially Carlino believed Joe's surname was Wellington, she remembered teasing him about being Joe Wellington from Wellington.
But after calling every 'J Wellington' in the phonebook and being rebutted, she's not so sure.
Since starting the blog she has posted 40 times about her efforts to find Joe, which range from Ancestry.com searches, to disappointing phone calls, to 'awkward' interactions after false sightings in the street.
The first happened at the Newtown Countdown. After seeing a man she thought resembled her old friend, she went to the carpark to tell her husband Aaron.
Aaron ran back to ask the man his name, but when he did, he'd disappeared.
Most recently, Carlino brought her car screeching to a halt after she was certain she saw him in Mt Cook.
Her husband jumped out of the car and tried to catch up to the man, even texting her saying 'Visual on target', throwing Carlino into a fit of laughter. But again, it was not Joe.
While some people suggested to Carlino that Joe might not want to be found, she said she didn't mind.
"It's not that I'm obsessively looking for Joe Wellington. It just came into my mind that maybe I'll see Joe here, and then it just turned into an adventure.
"If he doesn't want to meet, that's okay, so it goes. That'd be totally fine."
But in the meantime, Carlino is going to continue blogging, and keep the story going, whether she finds Joe or not.
WHAT WE KNOW
Joe was about 21 in 1998, so would be in his 40s now.
He was from Wellington, New Zealand.
He travelled around North America in 1998.
He had dark brown, reddish hair.
He smoked, liked music, was willing to see a psychic, was not a big drinker, and liked reading.