Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Virtual Friends, Meatspace Strangers

In high school, most of nearly every girl's time is either spent thinking about, talking about, or scheming up ways to best subtly approach boys.

I was no exception.

Well...except that I never could work up the courage to subtly approach anyone resembling a boy and, instead, used the not so successful tactic of pining away silently and hoping the object of my affection would notice.
 
It shouldn't surprise you then to learn my first serious boyfriend didn't come along until the year after I left high school.

But this story isn't about that first boyfriend.

There was a boy I liked - let's call him The Honorable Lord Vigo, Scourge of Carpathia and Sorrow of Moldavia1 - Vigo for short. I really only saw him a handful of times. We didn't attend the same school. Hell! By the time I met him, I lived in another town. So it wasn't one of those angsty, heart-wrenching, watching-him-lean-on-his-locker-and-slowly-dying-inside-day-after-day sort of crushes. It was simply one of those crushes where, from the moment I met him, I just really liked being near him. It felt good to be near him. He was adorable and funny. So, whenever I was in his town visiting, I was always super happy when our paths crossed.

Me, of course, being the shy, tongue-tied, type didn't ever hope to make an impression. If I recall correctly, I may have said all of 10 words to him during that time and likely they were monosyllabic. And, as one-by-one my closest friends from that town - Beasley, Brad, Nykki - moved up and out of it, I didn't see Vigo again...Not for nearly 25 years.

Eventually, the crush floated away on the winds of Wyoming as it blew in other boys who would become men.

Still...every once in awhile, I'd wonder what happened to him.

I would, rarely, get updates through the Beasley-Brad-Nykki vine. Eventually, they too lost touch with him. For many years there was nothing.

And then? Facebook happened. I think it was Brad's 40th birthday party invitation when I became aware of Vigo's online existence and knew he was physically present here, in Denver. He had a new last name and only recent pictures but it couldn't possibly be anyone but him. It was him. That was in 2010.

You have to understand...I wanted to send him a friend request back then. I really did! But! There are many people who date back from that time in my life - people I thought quite highly of - who, I fear, wouldn't even remember me. It was a time in my life I spent mostly in the corner, smoking, writing bad poetry, fearing rejection, deflecting attention. I didn't want anyone to see me...except that I really did...unless I knew they would like me. I was convinced no one actually liked me...except Beasley, Brad, Nykki.

Finally, at Beasley's insistence, near my birthday in 2013, I sent Vigo a friend request. It was weird. I felt weird. But he accepted right away.

Turns out? He did remember me.

Turns out? I intimidated him back then.

I blame it on resting bitch face.

Still got it.

And the fact that, since I couldn't actually formulate full sentences in the presence of testosterone then, I likely just grunted and growled and, occasionally, squeaked which probably made me seem a little whacko.

Anyway!

He accepted my friend request. Subsequently, I learned more about him and the man he's become through Facebook than I ever knew about the boy he was then.

But, even though he was here, in Denver, my adopted city, we weren't compelled to hang out until last week. We'd exchanged a few private messages prior to last week. Mostly about my dad, last summer, when I was looking for an elder care facility for him...something Vigo knows a lot about.

But then, last week, I was thinking a lot about being an empath. I stumbled across an article and, in reading the comments, I developed a theory about empaths. A theory that suggested empaths, including me, feel lonely, even in the presence of fellow empaths, because, in social situations, we are so used to feeling the feels of others and giving away our energy that it's all but impossible for us to know how to receive it. I wanted to test my theory - or discuss it with a fellow empath. So I posted something about it. Asked my friends on Facebook if they identified as an empath.Vigo said yes.

That's what started it. The conversation.

I think I started it - the private conversation - after he commented that he was an empath. We talked. A lot. We shared a lot via email. Not just about being empaths. About lots of things. And then he asked me to meet him on Friday for supper.

So...Friday night, we met, for the first time since 1989.

I was nervous. I was shaking as he approached. The high school crush thing wasn't the issue. It felt as though I was meeting him for the very first time. Virtual friends, meatspace strangers. What would he think of me? Would we have anything to say? Would we argue? Would we meet each other's expectations? Would we run out of conversation before we'd reviewed the menu? Would I forget my words and resort to prehistoric grunts and growls and squeaks?
 
I worry too much.

He got to the table, I stood up, and we hugged long and hard and then we both just started laughing.

The moment we sat down, we were on.

Words, his, mine, tumbling over the top of one another. Tell me this story, that story, OMG! That really happened?!

There were tears. There was laughter. There were stories galore!

Five hours we sat there asking, answering - empath to empath - about everything under the sun. We shared secrets. I told him things I haven't shared with anyone. It was a gloriously stimulating energy exchange the likes of which are exceedingly rare in my experience.

By the time I got home, there was an e-mail from him. We talked via e-mail for a couple more hours. I was so energized, I was practically giddy. I stayed up past 3, writing for the first time in months.
 
My theory was thoroughly debunked and in the best way possible. It would also seem that whatever that exchange was cured me of the constipation of the writing kind from which I'd been suffering since January. Pretty cool, huh?
 
So...that's the story. It's better than the first serious boyfriend one anyway. Trust me.
 
Thanks, Vigo. That was rad. Let's do it again soon.
 
 
1. I asked him how he'd like to be known for this entry. That's what he selected.

5 comments:

Word Nerd said...

THIS showcases the real beauty of social media. What an experience! And there seems no doubt that this friendship will continue, evolve, and become increasingly cherished over the next 25 years.

Gaelyn said...

Awesome. I can feel your excitement. Social media can work.

Margi said...

I certainly don't claim to be of Vigo's stature in your life, but this sounds an awful lot like how I felt before that lunch at Street Kitchen. :)

Virtual friends, meatspace strangers. What would he think of me? Would we have anything to say? Would we argue? Would we meet each other's expectations? Would we run out of conversation before we'd reviewed the menu? Would I forget my words and resort to prehistoric grunts and growls and squeaks?

I worry too much.

He got to the table, I stood up, and we hugged long and hard and then we both just started laughing.

The moment we sat down, we were on.

justexpressingmyself said...

I could actually feel the "natural high" you two had going on that night.

Katy Anders said...

That's really cool. It sounds like a great connection (or sort of re-connection?) That's sort of a perfect use of social media, really.

Never turns out that way for me.

Everybody either looks rather old and sad or else are so wrapped up in their kids that they don't have time to respond.