looking for love in online placesOne day after arriving on Salon Nerve, and putting in at least ten hours, I received some word back from Melissa. Within one day, she'd given me her email address and we were corresponding "outside the system" which felt like an exciting admission into something more intimate. Soon our correspondence was up to around two or three messages a day. She sent me her phone number and I spoke to her first on my birthday, two days after I'd met her.
Early on I gave her my web site address, which I don't usually do (though Wayne has suggested this site is a large (albiet strange, TMI) personals ad). It had a stimulating effect on our correspondence - even when I was tied up at work, she could learn more about me, and dig up thoughts or theries to respond to.
Over the course of a very few days, she was assuming a large place in my imagination, perhaps because she wasn't there. It was all talk of dreams, spirituality, web plans, career, thinking above the horizon. That she was located at least an hour away by plane made the speculation safer. We were just opening ourselves up, imagining ideals, and sharing them.
While I'd approached personal ads online with some great zeal, and I'd established communications with several neat-seeming young ladies, I ended up focusing. I became monogamous, in a distinctly non-monogamous situation. As easy as it would seem to toss varied glances around an online bar, wooing two or three ladies at once with some simultaineous accounts of your days and envisioning some lovely meetings, it quickly becomes too much, and the relationship online that gives the most takes the most in return and creates the opportunity for exciting fullness. To commit to an online relationship is to defy the shapelessness and transitory nature of the thing.
Because of course there can only be so long with this kind of communication before you are ready to meet each other. The exciting peeling back of memory and mind and sharing of stories leads inevitably to the personal imaginings of a flesh meeting. Sharing these visions turns into some of the most potent sharing. It's like envisioning marriage with a long time girlfriend - it's what you talk about to affirm your commitment and to give you a vision for the future.
Except when you've only communicated online, contemplating a flesh meeting is all the more terrifying and shallow. It's sudden and shallow. Apocalyptic. All you could have enjoyed speculating over and reading about becomes a gap-toothed overweight ambiguously gendered frog of a soul. And it turns out you're looking in the mirror! As repellant as the other person could end up smelling, who is to say that you would be loved in equal measure for your own meagre physical appearance?
So there is both the urge to get to know them better, so you can be sure, and the urge to see the face to face resolved as soon as possible, to get it over with. Because in the privacy of mind afforded at the end of the computer, there's a lot of room for idle masturbation (I discovered that much of the email reading and writing I shared with Melissa provided me with genital stimulation, even if sex wasn't the subject - it was just charged). This partner could yeild many weekends of great sex after long travel, or as it's more likely, some heartache and some okay sex and more of the same kinds of difficulties you've ever had in any relationship.
After only a few days, just over a week of steady communications, it became clear that I had a free weekend towards the end of December 2000 and nothing I would rather do than meet this young woman Melissa in her home to see what more there might be in exchanging breath.
Since we'd had positive communication online and over the phone, I figured we would enjoy as much time as we could get together. I arranged to fly down to Santa Monica to see her at the end of December. I would be flying back to San Francisco for a New Year's party at Howard's. She didn't seem to have any plans, so I invited her to travel with me. All in all five days we'd have together.
It turned out to be too much time. Nice as she was, and as good as we got to communicating in bed, I was just too confused to fully enjoy the situation. Here I was, in the apartment of a perfectly nice woman. Not a lot of drama, just a person who wanted to talk about spiritual issues, share some ideas for my speaking career, and expand the web with erotic art.
I think I expected a delusion of the senses - something like drugs, losing myself in a weekend of sex and personal exploration. But when it came time to open myself up to that kind of communication, I wasn't ready. Being close to someone intensly can require you to know who you are and it can require you to see past your nose. Somehow I preferred to fight with myself rather than appreciate the trust and patience of the person I was with.
Some serious hours we spent together - four days awake, asleep, eating, walking. It would have been a lot of time to spend with anyone, let alone a relative stranger who wasn't hell bent on distracting me. Our communication broke down; I wasn't willing to be honest about how strange I felt, and she was probably a little put off by my emotional cold front.
It was good to get out of the house and meet a new lady. I got to see inside someone's life, and I feel lucky when that happens. I'm just sad that I caused her some suffering (I thought I was joking but obviously I was commanding myself when I said that I was going to look for an online fling to recreate some of the problems I have had with Amy).
Fortunately, she and I are similar in our optimism. We may have a working relationship yet.