We weren’t looking for love, sex, or
anything unholy, just a casual friend to chat with once in a while. And
it was nice to come home from school and find an email from another
person, instead of the usual newsletters and junk mail.
We chatted on and off for months after we
met, sometimes every day, sometimes not for a week or two. Occasionally,
we’d come across each other on a lazy night and converse for hours on
end. Any topic was open. The present, the future, the past.
Similarities, differences, opinions. Oh how refreshing to be able to
share so much with someone, without fear of judgment. That’s the beauty
of online friends. I shared with him more openly than my close personal
friends because I knew it didn’t matter what he thought. If I am myself
and he likes me, fabulous! If he turns the other cheek, nothing has been
lost. Due to my low self-esteem, I never suspected the former.
Weeks passed and soon months. Halloween.
Thanksgiving. Christmas. Soon, it was the year 2000! Naïve as we were,
of course we said goodbye before the new year. Y2K could have cut off
our contact forever. I suppose it must have been meant to be.
Spring came, and we realized we were getting deeper into each other than
we had imagined. We awkwardly discussed what had been happening between
us over the six months we had been aware of each other’s existence. It
may have begun casually, but it didn’t feel that way anymore. Rushing
home from school every day so as not to lose a minute of time together.
Worrying when the other is late. Canceling plans with friends to stay
home online. Gulping down dinners, staying up far too late, forgetting
homework. This little fling, begun innocently on an autumn night, had
turned serious. “How do you feel about this?” I anxiously asked, unsure
of his reply, but hoping for some sort of affirmation. I waited a long
time, what seemed like an eternity. I nibbled my thumbnail, but it was
already raw from the habit. Finally, the message popped up on my screen,
“I love you.”
I love you? Of all the things he could of
said, this was not on my list. Sure, we had flirted a bit, but how could
he say that? This shy, reserved boy just told me he loved me. Of course,
I loved him too. I’d known that for weeks. But I knew in my heart, I
mustn’t rush things. I didn’t want to scare him. Now, he’d scared me. He
loved me. But how? How could this work? He lived over 1000 miles away
from me. I expressed my concerns. He, of course, had the same thoughts
as I. but despite all the obstacles and hardships that would surely
plague our immediate future, we made a decision. “We can make it
I met Ethan in person that summer. After
much scrutinizing for a way to meet without causing suspicion among
parents, I figured out a way to go on a business trip with my father,
which happened to be in a city a few hours from his home. What a
controversial choice! Everyone told me how crazy I was. Hadn’t I heard
of all the girls lured to strange places by internet creeps? The rapes,
murders, and assaults resulting from young girls involved online stuck
in the minds of my friends, family, and seemingly, anyone else to whom I
mentioned my adventure.
I did what any head-over-heels girl would
do. Listen to their advice? Right. I went anyway. My dad was with me, so
what could go wrong? I finally met my long-distance buddy in person in
the lobby of my hotel. How did it feel? Strange would be an
understatement. We knew the first words spoken between us would be
awkward. My charm pulled us through though.
“You’re not as short as I thought.” I
giggled as the words came out. Much to my relief, so did he. So that’s
what we did. We giggled. Later, we laughed. Even later, away from my
father’s protective watch, we kissed. It was clumsy, wet, and lacking of
any rhythm whatsoever. It was perfect. We spent the entire next day
together, alone. It was clear. We were in love. Online impressions can
be deceiving. Apparently, this was an exception. I swore I would see him
again, though my father didn’t know that. You see, my father and mother
are against my dating, even now. They believe he was just a friend. He
is. And much more.
The summer and fall were very painful for
us. After meeting, it was incredibly difficult to go back to being
online partners. We managed though, for a while. He loved me. I loved
him. Love isn’t measured in distances. At least, that’s what we told
each other, and ourselves. Then came the brisk month of October, over a
year after we first exchanged messages. Things weren’t going well.
Chatting was no longer interesting. Nothing to say to each other. Had we
forgotten what an amazing experience had occurred over the summer? The
relationship withered and threatened to die, just as the leaves on the
turning trees of autumn began to dry and fall. By the time snow fell, I
was sure it wouldn’t last.
He was not my first relationship, but he
was my first true friend. He was my first lover. He was the first person
I’d do anything for. He gave me my first “forever” feeling. Now, forever
seemed eons away. We were quickly losing interest in this sweet saga
that had gone on so long.
“Do you want to give up after we tried so
hard?” I asked him one night. “No. We tried. It worked. But what’s going
to happen now?” “At least it worked, had it not, things would be
different, you know? I can’t let this end. I’d do anything to fix this,
if I knew what was wrong,” I pleaded with him to try and work it out. He
knew, as did I, that this wasn’t something to throw away. But why did it
have to be so hard? “I need to see you,” he begged the next day. He felt
that another visit might recharge this relationship, since our
communication problems seemed to revolve around the computer. There was
no margin of discussion. If this was a possible cure, we needed to
I arranged things with my parents for my
“friend” to visit, and they reluctantly agreed. So, when Thanksgiving
vacation rolled around, my distant love stepped off a Greyhound bus into
the raging blizzard where I waited. It was face-ripping cold, with ice
covered roads and life-threatening wind chills. Yet, I drove a half hour
to pick my love up from that station, paying no heed to the weather. I
just needed to see him. The moment we made eye contact, I knew
everything was going to be okay. He dropped his things in exchange for
me, and we held each other there in the near-deserted parking lot as the
snow swirled all around us.
I’d like to say it was a fairytale
Thanksgiving, and that he got to know my parents well. Unfortunately,
that would be an outright lie. He and my mother were an instant
mismatch. She got a bad feeling from him, his alternate opinions and
eccentric style rubbed her the wrong way. By the end of his four day
stay, she told me I was never to see him again. I cried, but I knew that
was not the case.
After Thanksgiving, life was hell. My
parents were constantly telling me not to talk to him, even online. I
was not to call him on the phone, and if I mentioned him, they instantly
lost interest in my words. Oh, life is hard when someone you love is
taboo in your household! The months passed at a snail’s pace. I turned
18 that spring, and announced to my parents that I was flying to his
house after graduation. Reception was not warm, and that’s an
understatement. Finally though, my level-headed father told me that I
could go if it’s what I desired, it’s not their will to stop me, as long
as I am going for the right reasons. Now, I’m not an expert on what the
right reasons are, but I don’t think love was on his list. I chuckled to
That summer was a strange one. I spent a
week with Ethan and his parents. His were wonderful parents, very easy
to talk to. I think we hit it off quite well. I cried when I left, but I
knew I’d see him again sooner than last time. After all, I was an adult.
Adults make their own decisions, right?
He proved that statement right when he
made a very crazy journey. I woke up on a sunny July morning to new
email. It was mysterious, but troubled. He missed me, needed to see me.
It was sent at about 5:30 am. I thought nothing of it, because he keeps
odd hours. I figured we’d talk about it later, when he woke up. But
there was no later. Worried, I called his father and found the truth. A
note was found on the family’s refrigerator stating an unbelievable
goal. A quick check of the driveway confirmed it. He was truly gone. He
took the clothes he was wearing, a small amount of his pizza-delivery
paycheck, and the family’s car, and began his drive across the country.
It took him less than two days to drive over 1000 miles. He didn’t eat,
barely slept. He was determined to see me. I didn’t dare tell my parents
about his visit. I met him in a nearby town and we spent a lovely
What a strange trip to make, all in the
name of love. He put everything on the line for me. He made a huge split
second decision and stuck to his choice, despite the reservations of his
parents and me. It was the quickest, strangest visit we’d had. His
visit, turns out, was not all about love. It was about proving he could
do it. It was about finding happiness. Unfortunately, upon returning
home, he found that his desire was not quenched. He slipped into a major
depression, without will to live. He couldn’t talk to me or anyone else.
He couldn’t sleep or eat, and eventually, couldn’t work. He began to
take depression medication upon a doctor’s advice, along with other,
less legal substances. The summer of 2001 was one of the hardest of his
life. There were several times when I was afraid he would not make it.
He talked of suicide constantly, and seemed to have lost hope for any
future we may have had. “I want to end this,” he said, matter-of-factly.
“It’s just easier that way. Life is too hard, too painful.” It seemed
like the end. I cried.
Then, during a secret late-night phone
call, a miracle happened. He just snapped out of it. It could have been
the medication kicking in, since he had just recently begun taking it,
but perhaps it was something bigger. Fate does strange things, and I
think this goes on the list. He became excited about life. He began
doing all the things he used to love to do. He talked to me with passion
I hadn’t heard in months. He still had his low points, but they were no
longer the norm.
The peak of his recovery came a few weeks
later. I was preparing to make a cross- country journey to college in
the fall. We knew we would be apart no longer, but this would put us
farther apart than ever before. So, he made a major life change.
He packed his things and drove across country again. This time it was
not to see me, but to wait for me. He was settled into an apartment near
my University before I was even in the same time zone.
Of course, I could not tell my parents.
After sharing so much love, pain, and yearning, this was hardly
something in which I wanted their involvement. I quietly went on
preparing to move, knowing he would be waiting for me, but not letting
on. My parents dropped me off at school, 2000 miles from my previous
home. They pulled away from their hotel the day I moved in to my dorm,
ready to make the long drive back to my previous residence. I too pulled
away from their hotel, but instead of continuing back to my new dorm, I
rode confidently in the direction of my new, complete life.
Now Ethan and I enjoy life in the same
city, and make more serious plans every day. We are 19 years old.