This story has come up a number of times post-break-apart, but since it came up twice in the last week I thought it’d be interesting to finally write about. I’m not saying it’s a stellar story. It’s just an anecdote. For everyone who poo-poos online dating, I say: If the Internet can break you apart, it can also bring you together. ‘Sides, they’re usually not really hating on the Internet. They’re usually hating on something else. Anyway…
Friendster. Remember Friendster? Before Facebook, before MySpace, before Orkut, there was a Friendster. It used to be fairly significant in the U.S. and not just popular in South Asia and the Philippines.
I was dating this guy during Freshman year of college who I happened to have already had a bit of a history with. At this point seven years later, that fact is neither here nor there, but in giving this louse the benefit of the doubt, I can only assume that it is because he respected our history that he ended up doing the thing he did. (And acted The Coward.)
When I knew him – We met in high school, and this is why my kids are not allowed to go to overnighter Junior Statesmen of America conferences. – he was the love of my life. I would have run away with him. (Gross!) I thought we were so meant for each other, never mind all the drama that had riddled our lives before. And believe me, there was drama. Our doomed little high school romance provided all the crash-and-burn I would need for a lifetime. So I stopped with the drama when it was clear that our upperclassmen years were not going to go over smoothly if we were in each others’ lives.
By no surprise, we started communicating again after I went off to college. For the record, he hit me up first. We “talked” and we texted, but I was unsure of where things were going until one day where he dropped an all-too-rehearsed “Yeah, and now texting is the new flirting.” Then one spring morning I got a call that my dog had been attacked by coyotes and died. (Dolly, R.I.P.) I was in super emo sad mode, and texted him with just “:(.” He didn’t call me all day, so I figured I wasn’t his priority, but unexpectedly while my roommate was out, his name came up on my screen.
He said “Yeah, I got your text and I could just tell you were sad.” How very astute of you, Ex-Boy. Was it the frowny face that tipped you off? But he was big on Grand Gestures, so while we were on the phone I got a knock on the door, twisted the knob, and found him standing there with a Safeway potted flower destined to die and an Archie comic book. Someone kissed someone. I was floored. From then on, I thought we were dating.
I have always been terrified of dating and assumed the worst with all the surrealistically sweet moments in my life, so it was a big deal that I was so smitten for him. He would drive down to hang out with me and I thought we were in such a good place. I made the move and asked him if he was my boyfriend. Lesson learned: Do not be the first person to do the asking.
When summer started, he got a job as an orientation leader and I got a job teaching summer sessions, which meant we weren’t going to have the Sandy and Danny summer on the beach I thought we were gonna have. We’d call each other every night and text multiple times throughout the day, but the frequency started to diminish. On July 4th, I was sitting in a parking lot with TPM waiting for him to meet up with us and he never showed. Drank too many beers, he said the next day when he came down to surprise me with a picnic. Fool, you shoulda just said it instead of wasting my time.
My friends started to question where our relationship was going and I was in complete denial. He was just really busy, I said. But finally one day, a cave opened within me as I realized that we really hadn’t talked in days. Not even so much as a text. At one of my lowest of lows, I drove into the library parking lot (I was beside myself, like sitting in a public parking lot would change any part of the situation.) and called him one more time. He told me he was eating. Quite frankly, I was surprised he even picked up. I said “Okay, just call me when you’re done eating,” and put a deadline on it. If I didn’t hear from him in a week (which is generous!), then clearly it was over.
As anyone can guess, the week passed. I walked around in a daze for about three days. I was such a sorry shell of myself that my mom took me pity shopping. (I have since sold and donated the jacket and skirt from that pity shopping trip.) My stupor wasn’t caused by us not being meant to be together. My stupor was caused by not knowing what the fuck had happened. It was like I was hit by a train and had my brain removed at the same time. 99% of the time, the answer to life’s interpersonal problems is communication. I was denied any sense of closure, so it was as if I had been robbed.
I recalled a suspiciously stiff phone conversation that we had had during the breakdown of our relationship. At that point I had been on Friendster for a number of months, so I asked him if he was on Friendster. Even though I had been writing in a blog since high school, I knew he didn’t keep up with my posts, so I had to validate us to the online world somehow.
In the conversation, he asked me, in very seemingly forced words, “Yeah, I heard of it…Do you have to pay for that, though?” I may have been a giddy college schoolgirl, but I wasn’t enough of a sucker to pay for online communities. I told him no, it was completely free. I expressed to him with a wide-eyed enthusiasm how interesting this concept of online communities was, and how you could just watch your social circles grow and overlap in ways you’d never expected. I was all tapped into this social networking thing, but there was a lot of awkward “uh-huh” coming in from his end.
One night toward the end of my somnambulism, I was hit with distressed insomnia. I walked to my computer. I typed in his e-mail address. I don’t know how I had never done it before or why it didn’t occur to me, but clearly he had because his face popped up. Along with some chick sitting in his lap.
Shut it down, Lemon.
So there was my closure. Doode was seeing another chick. The following winter, I was cramming in sleep before a polar bear drive out to Tahoe when I received a knock on my dorm door at 2 in the morning. Earlier that week he had dropped by my full-time campus job when I wasn’t around, left me an unsigned Hallmark apology card, and asked people in the lounge where I lived. And there he was, feeling bad and wanting to say he was sorry. I let him say his piece, and then I said, “Okay, well, that’s it” and pointed him to the door. In a couple of hours I woke up to pack the SUV and kicked off a lot of OMG/WTF with “So, doode, I feel like this ghost from my past just visited me…”
Something like a year later, I got this comment on a blog post from one of my first dates with him saying “The whole time he was with you, he was with another girl.” His new girl had descended onto my blog to leave a little anonymous yet blatantly obvious comment love. Oh, honey. You are clearly too smart for me. I’m still amazed she spent all that time going through hundreds of posts to pinpoint that one. I musta been a better writer than I thought! ::thumbs up::
I forwarded the comment to The Ex, my first contact with him since ushering him out of my room, and simply wrote “Tell your girlfriend I already knew.” He emailed back feeling really bad, we arranged to meet up, I told him “If you don’t marry this girl, I’m going to laugh in your face,” he said how he missed “conversating” with me, and I drove home.
I don’t have time for people who think “conversate” is a word.