We met in London again in the summer, and made a journey to beautiful Cornwall. It was then that I realized this something was, in fact, a relationship. And how — despite parting ways once again, flying to opposite sides of the world, and resuming our romance on GMail, Skype, WhatsApp, and Twitter — I was the happiest I’d ever been.
Since the day I got married, I’ve changed my name on various profiles online and begun to sign my new name on documents and checks. As I mentioned in my last post, changing my name is a big step, and because I sit in front of a computer screen for most of the day, with my various profiles staring back at me, I’m constantly reminded of this change.
But I no longer have to rely on looking outward, into a sea of pixels, to sustain this particular relationship in my life. It’s interesting to feel this layer of my Internet now inside my home, absorbing into me, into him, into us. Two planes initially distinct, merging over the course of a year-and-a-half, now intertwining.
But my curation of my own history—the deleting of previous status updates, the “featuring” of particular posts—is strange. More so than before, I am able to highlight what is important in my life—or what I want others to view as important—and fill in missing details from today to when I was born.
But there was a drawn-out moment—one that lasted years, for as long as we all swirled together, nourished through the music and the substances. The partying halted like a trainwreck, but in slow motion. As we came down, I tried to grab onto something tangible to take with me: a constant, or a totem from that world that made sense outside of it.
And so both realms, physical and virtual, are appealing: The concrete world where I can meet my father for lunch in South Beach on my day off, and where I can head to a Giants game with my good friend Noel on a warm evening in the bay. A physical space of certainties. And then there’s this boundless digital space, where the thinker, the romantic, and the dreamer in me gets much of its oxygen.
It’s rather nice to keep moments untweeted, unblogged, and unplugged, no matter how wonderful. And I’m not saying the experiences we do publicize and tweet and blog aren’t special, but there was something about escaping this vast, ever-flowing matrix—and letting the moments that unfolded simply be.
In the past, I’ve felt that nomadic friendships enhance my life, but weren’t meant to replace my traditional ones. Today, I crave—even need—these connections. I’m not certain what this means, or how these particular relationships will evolve. They are special, but also bittersweet in that the time I spend with these people is sporadic.
It comes down to compartmentalization. I find myself filing my friendships and relationships, online and off, into tidy drawers. Yet as I do this, gingerly and methodically, “friendship” becomes more elusive as “real” and “virtual” continues to collide.
I may not know Mike in the everyday, traditional sense, but as I sat there and chatted with him and Nick—who has become a good friend—I realized: I know him enough to sit here and not want to run out of the restaurant. I know him enough to laugh at his stories. I know him enough to talk about our hopes and goals for travel, for writing, for the future.
I don’t know about you, but in my worlds—virtual and real—that is a friend.