Sometimes Love is 24 Hours
Sometimes love is 24-hours, or a little less in my case. We met online one morning. I was busy studying for a law exam and eagerly sought a distraction. He was killing time before work. We found each other at exactly the right moment, a perfection of timing impossible to replicate. When it happens you have to ride the wave, taking in everything.
We were both looking for idle conversation to pass some time and we both made this clear right from the start so that there would be no confusion of intent. He had just moved back to Richmond and wanted feedback on some local hotspots that had sprung up since his departure. I was more than happy to offer my experiences and criticism, advising him on new eateries like En Su Boca.
Me: “Yes it used to be a porn shop, but the food is amazing if you can get past the history…but this’s Richmond, everything used to be something else.”
Him: “That sounds interesting, and I think the history might be the best part, no matter how good the food is… what a conversation starter that would be on a first date! Haha! :)”
We both enjoyed sharing stories of “Old Richmond” and how much it’s changed, even in the past few years. But as our anecdotes began to dwindle, our exchange grew deeper. Up to that point our carefree conversation had taken up the better part of an hour, consistently. I found myself so invested in his responses, and he in mine. It was apparent a mutual feeling of trust was growing with every message as we both began sharing personal stories.
He started talking about his family and career. He was well-educated, having just graduated with honors from a large northern university with an even larger reputation. He wanted to find a good job in town and was ready to “settle down” with someone. We were in similar mindsets.
We shared our feelings about love, children, the afterlife; it was a no-holds, judgment-free environment. For me it was a breath of fresh air. It sounds counterintuitive, but when I know I’m talking to a potential date these things are less communicated up front, but he spoke about things that had me in tears.
I opened up about feelings of regret and loss from my childhood. We were reliving moments in time we had tried to forget and laughing at the ones we thought we had.
Our carefree connection was becoming problematic. I had spent more time away from my studies than I had anticipated and our conversation was now approaching the three-hour mark.
He was doing his best to avoid his peers at work while tactfully messaging with me under his desk. We both knew this was becoming an issue, but for some reason neither of us dared to break the conversation.
Me: “You know I’m supposed to be studying right now. You are such a distraction.”
Him: “I know, so are you… but in a good way, right?”
Me: “I have to say yes, a very good way!”
We continued on with our ideas of the perfect first date and even began similarly describing what constitutes a modern relationship. He had these ideas about sustainability in gay relationships that mirrored my own. It’s a recipe of companionship interlaced with progressive views of post-millennial homosexual America.
My midterm notes stared up at me from my desk. I was actively searching some of the places he had been, using pictures to fill in the gaps from his descriptions.
We had taken our conversation to the next level. As much as I hate to admit it, we even listened to the same song at the same time, to try to get the “right there with you” feeling that was very much missing from our online conversation.
Around the sixth hour I started to question reality. As the conversations grew more and more personal, reality took a back seat to fantasy. We had made an obvious connection, but we had never even met. Neither of us had dedicated so much consistent time to another person online and neither of us wanted to stop. Worst of all, the fantasy was giving us both false emotions painted in a façade of love.
It’s not that we were necessarily in love with each other, but more in love with the idea of the person we were talking to. By not meeting we were free to fill vacancies of reality with the perfection of fantasy.
It was becoming unhealthy and started felt like an addiction.
I considered politely ending the conversation or shutting my phone off without warning and blaming it on a dead battery – but no. We both went out of our way to ensure nothing would end the conversation prematurely.
It had to stop. In two hours I would be taking an exam half a semester in the making. He was in agreement – we had talked well over a reasonable amount of time. He was behind in work and had tight deadlines.
We finally broke off the conversation with a promise to message each other after my exam had ended.
Him: “Parting is such sweet sorrow…”
Me: “Seriously?!? That’s terribly cliché…and affective! :)”
With that, I turned off my phone.
Despite the fact that he wasn’t popping up on my screen every few seconds, my mind was still wandering through the breadth of our conversations. I was now reliving our connection from a different perspective. Though I still don’t understand it.
It seemed as though anything was possible. I felt high and hung-over all at once. I was disjointed from reality and stuck in this fantasy that I had been living for the past eight hours… that’s eight consecutive hours of conversation with someone I hadn’t even intended on talking to. I didn’t even know if we would ever talk again.
Sure, we had said we would, but if he was feeling as emotionally overwhelmed as I was, perhaps he would change his mind.
My exam ended and I immediately jumped online. There he was, status “Online,” (waiting?) His first question was about my exam. His second was about my plans for the rest of the night. Just like that fantasy was becoming a reality. I was eager and reluctant all at once.
Me: “You know I would love to meet you. I think you are an amazing person from what I have learned about you, but I’m afraid of what might happen…don’t get me wrong we would probably have an unforgettable time, but what if we didn’t? Would it be best to just leave things as they are and move on?”
Him: “I see your point. I could argue for both sides, but I think we both deserve the opportunity to see where things could go!”
Me: “I feel hesitant to say yes. Please don’t misunderstand – I just feel like this is all happening so fast.”
Him: What have you got to lose? I’m just as nervous as you are, I promise. It may not come off that way in this form of conversation, but I’m actually kind of shy about meeting people and very anxious about meeting you, but I still want to. I need to”
Me: “You’re right. Let’s go somewhere for a drink!”
I was more nervous preparing for that encounter than any other I can remember. There was so much expectation. Regardless, I made my way to The Fan. We were approaching the 15 hour mark since we’d begun our conversation and I felt like I was meeting and old friend for the first time.
I must have circled the block half a dozen times hoping to catch a glimpse of him out front. I finally parked my car and walked in. He was waiting by the bar. He had a genuine smile and perfect manners.
It may have been the worst date I have ever been on in my life. The details would be arguable by anyone, but in the end we both agreed that there was no chemistry.
How is it possible after so much time spent reinforcing a natural connection yet nothing came to pass? I still don’t have a definitive answer, really.
I think we both wanted to find something surreal, so we created it. Though neither of us said it, I’m sure we both also questioned how unhealthy such an engrossing experience could be. I’m a practical, rational person, but as with all matters of the heart, sometimes practical and rational feel like bullshit.
I regret nothing, not even my sub par exam grade. In the time I spent masked in mystery and connection I felt like I was opening up about what I actually do want out of life and a partner when I find one who suits me. I also learned about the dangers of setting unrealistic expectations on others and myself; something my good friend DuVet claims is a recipe for disaster.
I’m glad it was so short-lived. Honestly, until we actually met, it was probably one of my best relationships. In the end I realized that our “love” was less than 24 hours, but I guess sometimes that’s enough.
“Good luck on your hunt.”February 5, 2015
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