Collapsing continues…

My first experience with International travelers was my sister’s foreign exchange program in Denmark when I was in junior high.  It was 1988 and the internet, needless to say, did not exist.  Communication with my big sister ordinarily took 2-3 weeks and was always in the form of a long hand written letter.  Occasionally, my family would be extravagant enough to splurge on an international long distance phone call, which was considered very expensive at the time.  We would take turns talking to L and then any letters that had been written in the meantime would become obsolete by the time they arrived. My sister had been one of my closest companions but when she went abroad she was completely out of reach.  I remember getting snippets of her life pieced together from her phone calls and her host family.  “L is learning Danish.”  L has a friend in her English class named Benny. Benny has purple hair.  L is taking a class with 4th graders.  At some point in that year we discovered air mail stationary.  This sped letters up to 4-5 days.  Now we were really on top of things.  When L later went to Spain in the 90’s, it was much the same.  Communications were few and far between.  As for myself, I opted not to travel abroad because I didn’t want to miss high school.  In hindsight this may have been a mistake, but I saw how difficult it was for L to integrate back into high school when she came back from Denmark.  Our high school in 1988 was the farthest thing away from forward thinking in the whole of the US, at least it seemed that way to us.  My big sister was known around town as “that weird girl”  during her entire senior year of high school.  The price for enlightenment seemed too much to pay and I opted instead to spend grandma’s money on massage school when I was already long gone from high school.  That had it’s own weirdness that came with it but is not really relevant to this narrative. 

Ideas about things that form in junior high tend to stick.  Enough so that I was expecting things to be similar with East Side Man.  I might not have gotten involved had I realized it would be other wise.  When he flew back to India on the day that must have been his birthday, I expected it to be the last time I would hear from him in a very long time.  I expected him to drop off the face of the earth and to be living in a vacuum where a communication from the present time would arrive 2 weeks later and by the time it arrived, could not be relied upon to be the truth.  I expected all text messages to stop and I certainly didn’t think I would talk to him on the phone.  So it was quite a shock when I logged into Facebook and there he was, as if he was in the same room.  He had posted a picture of the sunrise when he got off the plane and uttered sweet words about being sad to leave Denver that I knew were about me.  I could feel his energy in the post and then I started to scroll through his wall.  There was his daughter, and his students, and his friends, and him- ESM, who wasn’t yet ESM.  His face was gigantic on the screen and just as I remembered it.  Oblong, with a red beard and a red scruff of hair atop his head and the same look on his face- a look of arrogance mixed with kindness and a twinkle in his eye.  He looks at people as if he has a secret that only he is in on.  And he usually does. 

But ESM would not remain a mystery for long.  The text messages would not stop and phone calls were not the same as 1988.  Skype caller would frequently call on Sunday morning and text messages were non-stop.   And there was always Facebook for the moments when he wasn’t calling.  Until I couldn’t stand it anymore and took him out of my news feed so as not to be tortured or caught off guard when I wasn’t in the mood for unrequited love. 

My psychic healer told me that the emails would start coming.  I didn’t believe her.  I had only met ESM twice in person and I wasn’t even sure I liked him.  But then they did.  First a hello or a mild flirtation or joke, then finally becoming more seductive and passionate.  They were never about me so I didn’t give them too much power at first.  But then came the email of all emails, the Taj Majal email with the silks and jasmine petals.  It still wasn’t about me; it was all him but I was hooked.  No one had ever sent anything that romantic before and the dream began at that point.  I couldn’t forget something like that. 

ESM comes into my dreams sometimes but he is pretty ephemeral at this point in time.  I suspect that he and his girlfriend are hot and heavy or expecting because it is the only thing that I can imagine that would be more dramatic than what already transpired between us.  He never talks about himself and I wonder that he ever did.  It makes him the perfect imaginary boyfriend.  By not saying anything real or personal but always reflecting back on my life, he gets to be what I imagine him to be.  And that makes him perfect in every way and controllable.  But this isn’t exactly true.  As I reflect backwards in time, I remember him telling me about his ex-wife.  But that was after I asked him and he was still trying to woo me at that point in time.  It was so poignant that I still felt the pain- HIS pain- 24 hours later.  I could imagine exactly what it must have been like working in the same school as a person who once loved him who no longer respected him.  My heart ached for him.  But little tidbits are all I got and I’m not even getting those anymore.  Which supports my theory that he isn’t divulging details because there aren’t any that wouldn’t hurt me.  And he knows it.  That’s what I like to think anyway.  That it is all out of concern for my well-being.  Not that his is really a player with women in 5 different continents waiting for him to appear. 

So now he answers when I write, he sends me cute things, he writes words of encouragement, but never says a thing about what is going on in his life.  So I am having a relationship with half a shadow.  And I don’t like it.  I want the real deal and I want to know what makes him tick.  Women make him tick.  Music makes him tick.  Going to new countries makes him tick.  Is there more or is it like Richard put it- behind the curtain there’s nothing but a man.  I know this to be true.  But I want to know how his relationship is.  Does he see her all the time, does he leave her alone to be social, do they fight?  Are they passionate?  Is he supportive?  What am I missing by not having the willingness to uproot myself?  More pain or the love of my life?  Undoubtedly both.  Which this has been anyway.  And at least this one didn’t last for 2 years before I had the disillusionment.  My friend disillusionment.  Wow!!! So that’s it.  Instead of lovers, we are facebook friends who root for each other.  Except how can I root for someone I don’t know.  And I truly wonder if he even wants to hear from me.  This crazy chic who fell in love with him for no apparent reason.  But there were plenty of reasons.  The book and the CD, the Taj Majal, the slow, tender kisses, the voice in my ear, the writing.  I wonder if I will have a love like that again. 

Nov 9
East in the West

East in the West

Oct 6

The Collapsing of time and space.

I have never understood the phrase “we are all connected” and I don’t believe the book that my computer monitor rests upon, “the World is Flat”.  I never made it past chapter one.  No offense Friedman, the book is better suited to that purpose than any other, save maybe a lullaby.  I don’t believe the title.  The world is huge and exists in an even bigger infinite Universe.  So it was with tremendous surprise that I could feel so close to someone who is 12,000 miles away who I have only spent 7 hours with.  He lives in another country but i swear that the whole experience took place as if it was right in my bedroom.  And I won’t repeat it in this lifetime but I think it’s worth writing about.  Plus maybe putting it on paper will silence the incessant voices in my head that keep going on and on about it, never ceasing to analyze the story from a new angle.  

So that’s it.  My angle is from the West and his is from the East.  His nickname is a contradiction though.  East Side Man (ESM) is really so Western you expect him to be touring the Eiffel tower with a French beret that says “Rusty”.  And my first impression of him was that he is arrogant beyond belief.  He took no interest in downtown Denver, a place he said he had never been.  And DD is so interesting in July.  I had never seen as many homeless people as last summer.  They would congregate around the fountain and under the public art display and  sleep, talk, yell, do drugs, and hang out where-ever they could.  I could’ve had lunch with ESM in the park watching people for entertainment. 

We made our way to a lunch place of my choosing.  He still seemed less than thrilled and so was I.  The music was load and the din of downtown lunch voices even louder.  I dislike these first dates and the automatic awkwardness of being with someone you have no idea how to talk to.  I quickly got used to ESM though.  He did most of the talking and could elaborate on any subject until he was blue in the face.  Plus he acted interested in me, which is more than I can say about so many other dates I went on subsequently.  At that time I was mulling over how to get around the fact that I’d spent the last 6 months of my life battling breast cancer.  I needn’t have worried.  He wanted to know who I was, how I came to be in my present state of being, and what I was about.  And he wanted someone to be a witness to his Universe just the way he sees it. 

Still, I didn’t think we’d connected that well and couldn’t get over the fact that he lives in another country.  I went back to work disappointed, thinking I’d never see him again.  Maybe I shouldn’t have. 

We stood under the public art that was really just geometrically shaped canvas that looked like upside down satellite dishes.  Junkies and homeless hung out there, but not so much on that day.  And I thought my legs would collapse while I listened to ESM talk about what dating was like for him.  He said he would take any woman he could get any time and i could feel the frustration in his voice.  So there it was, 2 people meeting out of desperation.  Myself, because I needed to go on a date after my lumpectomy and radiation was finished.  Him, because he lives in a country where women stay veiled and live primarily indoors.  Or so I thought. 

I should have run away as soon as he told me he lived in another country 10 months of the year.  And I really did not expect to enjoy the second date and I’m not sure why I went.  If my profile had been a household object, it would have had a layer of dust on it thicker than a quarter.  He had expressed interest in hiking so I invited him.  It didn’t work out and I am grateful.  Hiking with he and Svetlana would have been a disaster.  And I would not have impressed him with my physicality.  So we went without him which was the right thing to do. 

I had almost forgotten about him when he asked me to dinner.  Another thing I am not good at doing: saying no.  I had plans to go out of town for the weekend and I was ridiculously busy at work.  But I made plans to have dinner with him on Thursday after work at one of my favorite places.