And maybe there are seasons. And maybe they change. And maybe to love is not so strange. - Dan Fogelberg, To the Morning
I'm going to give away the punchline: I fell in love with a rock star after developing a long-term online relationship. Why beat around the bush? Better to just blurt it out now and spare myself the embarrassment of having to admit it later on. His name is (fill in the blank) from this point on. You may not have heard of him anyway, so who cares, right?
I added him as a MySpace friend over 6 years ago (when that was our social meeting place, remember?). And much to my surprise, he wrote a personal message back. I asked him if he was an imposter, you know, some bespeckled geek, hanging out in his parent's basement, acting the part of this well-known musician.
His response? "I've been playing the role of (fill in the blank) since 1965." That's when I knew it was him, for some reason. I was floored. He emailed me? He joked with me? I felt like the luckiest girl in the world, teeming with girlish glee.
Over the next few years, we communicated sporadically, but incrementally, more and more. We moved over to instant messaging, which was a first for me. His little face would suddenly pop up on my screen, out of the blue. Wow. He's kind of in my bedroom now. Our little virtual world seemed so intimate and magical.
We would chat for hours on end, exchanging songs, jokes, links, stories, photos, struggles, heartfelt compliments, sarcastic zingers and mild flirtations. Sometimes we'd type the same thought at once. Or send the same song to one another. It was uncanny. I felt as if I'd finally met my soul mate, as painfully corny as that sounds.
One night, after excessive typing and wine drinking (he drank vodka. He was bipolar and often self-medicated in some not so healthy ways), he suggested calling me to give my hands a break. On the phone!? Mother of god, this is getting real.
When my phone rang, I felt so small and scared suddenly. Why was this amazing man interested in a little nobody stranded at the Jersey shore? Well, I don't think I'm a nobody per se; it's just that when a romantic dream unfurls before you, you feel humbled by it. It almost hurts. Am I worthy?
Yes, I am. Indeed I am. So I answered the phone.
And I heard his sweet voice for the first time. We talked and laughed as if we'd known each other for thousands of years. He even sang to me that night - yes, he did. He played his guitar and sang one of his popular songs to me over the phone. And I sang with him, nervous, elated.
From that point forward, I fantasized about us living in a home on the beach in California. He'd play his music for me or ask me to sing a section of a song, so he could work out a glitch. We'd be very musical together and fuck a lot - that was my dream life with him.
Phone sex erupted in the middle of our 4-hour long conversation (shocker, right?). He lead the way. Quick and wildly creative, he could spin these wonderfully steamy stories, as if he knew all of my private little kinks.
He tucked me in that night, thousands of miles away. He told me to get under my covers. He whispered in my ear for some time and then said good-night at the just the very moment I drifted off. I hung up the phone and floated up to the heavens.
The next day, he instant messaged me with the news I secretly suspected: he was married. The "kids" part was a surprise though. Wasn't expecting that. Young kids. Fuck. How could you? He apologized and explained to me their situation: he and his wife haven't slept in the same bed for years, he lives in an in-law on their property now. They stay together for the kids. Lots of animosity.
I felt shattered and told him to leave me alone for a while, or permanently - whatever sticks.
Torturous weeks went by and he either contacted me or I contacted him. "I miss you desperately" was the theme. And our strange, other-worldly relationship resumed without missing a beat. We jumped back in like two lovelorn idiots.
His bipolar disorder became more of an issue as we progressed. He was deeply struggling. Yet so was I, mentally as well as financially. I was desperately alone in an old, decrepit family house on a desolate island. He went on meds. He became my medication, my happy pill amidst profound loneliness. His moods changed quickly and radically. I'd hear from him, then nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Then he'd flood back in torrents, all over me. Until he was gone again.
A quick aside on abandonment issues: when you have them and your love interests show up/don't show up, you're in a constant state of pins and needles. Anxious and preoccupied all the time, you can't focus, you can't work optimally, you can't even take a deep breath. His departures wreaked havoc in my life. But our times together were transcendent and blissful.
Did we ever make plans to meet? We talked about it during our sexual and fantastical exchanges. Hotel rooms. Waiting for me in hotel rooms. What he would do to me. How he would do it to me. How long he would do it to me. And how shopping and dining would be involved beforehand. (It was often a full-day fantasy. We wanted as much time together as possible.)
But did he ever really plan on meeting me? No, probably not. That's hard to write, to admit.
Would we be attracted one another, if we had met? I wondered that for some time. Maybe it would be deeply disillusioning if we broke that fourth e-wall. Maybe he would be a 4 foot boil-covered troll of a man. Or we just wouldn't have that "thing" in the real world. But after years of our strange intimacy, I worried less and less about that. We were already deeply attracted to one another on a level few could understand, including ourselves.
I loved an introverted, troubled and highly creative man I never met who sang and played in a popular band in the 90's. And I believe he loved me too. A strange, beautiful and ether-like love. One that couldn't last unless we met, which wasn't going to happen. I began to hear from him less and less. Then not at all. My self-esteem plummeted and I found it harder to reach out, for fear he wouldn't respond.
He also made sure he covered his ass. I had no phone number or address, just his email. When someone left vaguely threatening comments on a blog post of mine, I emailed him immediately. We had already drifted apart, but the comments mentioned his name specifically. I felt scared and vulnerable.
At first I thought it was his wife - which was surprising, because she didn't seem very involved in his life. Then I thought it was some hateful side of him during a manic episode. I'll never really know, but they were scathing words which I've long since locked in a metal box in my head.
After several weeks, he emailed me back and claimed no knowledge of the comments. That he had found God. He was deeply sorry for what he put me through. He lives with the guilt and the pain and blah. But thanks to Him (yes - a capital "H"), he is back on his path. How tidy. God in a box, Hollywood style.
Eh, I'm being sarcastic and mean. Neither of us killed ourselves, which I consider a definite perk of our time together - and trust me, we were within spitting distance a few times. Let him have his God. Let me have the Goddess he made feel like. All is forgiven, ultimately. It has to be or the pain could gnaw at me.
And what he did to my confidence alone - I wrote like a mad woman during our time together - was worthy of gratitude. He read all of my material and constantly gave me glowing feedback. This amazing and complex musician was my muse. I was the star of the star's eye - the princess at a ball, even though my prince was troubled, married and electronic.
I miss him. To this day. When someone parts ways with you so poorly, the recovery time is rocky and protracted. When you never had the chance to meet that person, its as if they never really existed, making the grief that much more complicated
I did my best to digest the loss by sending him emails, expressing my pain, my love. I knew he wouldn't respond, but I did it for myself, to purge and move on. Eventually my need to contact him lessened to once in a blue moon. And then, I'd simply keep him posted on my life or send him a song he might like. He had a become a distant pen pal and I was dating others, slowly getting back to real life again.
Last month, an email I sent him was returned; his account has been disabled. He slowly but very surely shut a large, immovable door on me. I had no choice but to let go completely.
"The email account? You couldn't let me hang on to that puny little thread? I'll let go when I'm good and ready, not a moment sooner. In the face of such dismissiveness, it's the least you could do. Or hell, would flowers have been so hard? Or a phone call? Anything? I am a human, afterall. A human."
Sometimes I fantasize about bumping into one another in some random hotel lobby in NYC. I'd recognize him and speak his name simply and he'd turn around slowly. I'd see his face for the first time.
Ha...what would we do? We would both cry, I guess. And hug. Then I'd slap him hard across the face and he'd be stunned and then laugh. Then I would punch him in the gut. This wouldn't be so funny. He'd have to sit down after that one. And I wouldn't apologize. I'd wait until he caught his breath and....
No, I could never hurt him. Nor would I name him. He knows that because he knows me. No matter how much he hurt me or denied me the chance of respectful closure or a physical meeting, I'd never do anything to harm him. I wish I could say he did the same for me. He was kind of a bratty, narcissistic jerk, right? But it's not that simple. It never is.
He was one of the best things that ever happened to me and one of the most amazing men I've never met.
It's taken me a while to get over him and I still have my heart-stabbing moments. Though most of the time he's just a pale ghost drifting around my heart, bumping into things occasionally.
It's just accepting the bitter fact that we will never meet. I will probably go to my grave never seeing him in person. And that's the thing...that's the thing....then I just can't seem to let go....completely....