Monday, August 4, 2014

TEXTUAL HEALING

I did not plan to be dazzled by a Vancouver man right before leaving town for more than five weeks. After nine years of nothingness, why would I have held off on travel plans based on a desperate hope that something good should suddenly come up? Tim and I squeezed in three dates before I headed to Los Angeles. There was a spark in each date.

This could be something.

No, really. I mean it this time.

But it’s hard to know what is happening after three dates, no matter how lovely they may be, no matter how lovely he may be. And a sudden hiatus can siphon away all the momentum. As my dear friend Benny said over dinner in West Hollywood, “Oh, he’ll forget you.”

Yes, Benny can fall into that bitchy humor. I genuinely laughed. It seemed like a reality check. Just look at my track record. But I still feel the sting. Why would Tim wait around? Guys like him get noticed all the time. My gut said he’d wait. After all, things had gotten off to an incredible start. And Tim is that kind of man. Still, Benny’s words poked at my fragile self-esteem. Could I have made an equally strong impression? Was there a mutuality of dazzling?

This is not foreign territory. The first time I feel in love, I lived in L.A. and we dated for a month before I flew to Ontario for a two-week cottage stay. Again, we weren’t in love yet. But it was a strong start. Being closeted with family, phone conversations weren’t an option so I mailed John a postcard every day. Silly, random notes. He waited. (Shorter period, of course.) Our relationship continued to develop when I returned.

Times have changed. The mailbox is for credit card offers and grocery ads. Phone calls are antiquated, too. “We’ll text,” Tim said. “We’ll try FaceTime. We’ll Skype.”

We’ll see, I thought.

I sent my first text on the train from Vancouver to Seattle. And so began the first exchange—back and forth and back and forth and back.

No forth. Hmm.

See, that’s one of my problems with texting. On the phone, you say goodbye. You don’t just hang up. With emails, you type your name at the end or type a sentence that makes the ending clear. Texts aren’t always like that. Even when I feel like a text exchange has run its course, I continue to reply until there’s a goodbye. But then I’m also the guy who proofreads his texts before sending. And I never EVER use “LOL” or some other tired abbreviation that saves me the bother of typing a full word or phrase. I happen to like words and phrases. In their entirety. I’ve been forced into the Text Era, but I’m an old-fashioned letter writer at heart.

Once I’d flown to L.A., I texted anew. Back and forth and back and forth and back.

Forth wasn’t coming. And so the pattern continued. It was unsettling. What just happened back in Vancouver? Acute hangnail accident while texting? Dog vomit on the living room carpet? Earthquake? No telling. We’d lost communication.

And then the next morning, a text from Tim. “Morning, handsome.” Cue the warm fuzzies. All was good again.

Nothing is an adequate substitute for person-to-person, in-the-same-room interaction. But my insecure self, still thinking of Benny’s comment, didn’t feel like text messages would keep things on track. And so we opted for FaceTime on our iPhones. In trying to begin the process, I got a look at myself on the phone screen. Scary. Like holding a spoon up to my face and watching everything in Funhouse Mirror mode. Uh, no thanks. This was not how I wanted Tim to see me.

FaceTime aborted.

Next came Skype. I was highly apprehensive. We’d set a time and I worried that I’d fumble in the process. I am technologically challenged. Yes, I am aware that grandmas Skype. I bow to the grandmas. They out-knit me, out-bake me and, yes, I am prepared to admit that they out-tech me. Clearly, I went in with a defeatist attitude. I even grabbed a large towel to place beside the laptop prior to Skype time.

Call failed.

Failed.

Failed.

Through texting, I knew we were both on our laptops. Failed. Failed. Failed. I grabbed my towel. In the olden days, I would keep a towel by the phone on the rare occasion I’d call a guy and ask him out. It was always such an excruciatingly awkward call, that my sweat glands would go into overdrive and the towel prevented me from being electrocuted. (Or so I thought. I was tech-challenged back then, too, but it had mostly to do with getting tangled in phone cords.)

After toweling off, I tried to Skype again. Failed. I was too fried and clammy to try again. I picked up my iPhone and called, roaming charges be damned.

And there it was: contact. No picture, but by now that was a good thing. Tim’s voice calmed me. He had me laughing in less than a minute. This was what I needed—a renewed connection, a reminder of what dazzles me, a little Tim to pass the time.

So what if it had to happen great-grandma style? For the time being, it was the right way to communicate.

3 comments:

oskyldig said...

It sounds like a lot of distress for something, but I'm glad that your nerves were calmed. It's good to know that there is hope.

I think a lot more people have doubts about things but are unwilling to discuss them or consider them. And for that, I think it's very courageous of you to be open about it, regardless of the outcome.

Rick Modien said...

A couple things come to mind, RG:
1). With friends like Benny…; and,
2). As much as you might think men are falling over themselves to be with Tim, I assume he's been single for a while and having as much trouble finding a quality person as you have.

So, deep breath. It'll be all right.

(By the way, cute blog post title. All of your titles are clever in some way.)

Rural Gay said...

It's taken me a while to get this post out since I've been playing tourist and attending a writers' conference this past week in L.A.

The good news is Tim and I have successfully Skped twice now. (I'm in the Grandma Club!) It's a different experience and somewhat glitchy, but I'm on cloud nine after each occasion.

You can't ever be sure in the early stages and that's exactly what I am trying to show in the blog--the excitement mixed with the uncertainty. As maddening as it gets, it's all rather normal. The five-week gap between third and fourth dates? Not so much. I've got to deal with it. Two weeks to go...