Love In a Time of Internet

When I was a young girl, I thought I would grow up and get married and have all those things you think you’re going to have- a house, a car, and some kids. That dream, or thought, or assumption, whatever it was, didn’t last for very long. I honestly never thought I would fall in love, or get married. I thought I would be single for the rest of my life, and I was okay with that. I have plenty of friends, and a few cats. Everything was all right.

I have been very lucky in my life, I have met amazing people continuously. I have loved a lot of people, and been loved by a lot of people. I was even engaged once before. And I have had people ask me to marry them on more than one occasion, though I would always laugh and say “I’m not the marrying kind.”

The funny thing is that during all this time, I had known one person, kept in touch with one person, through it all. I met him in a Yahoo! chat room, “Christian Punk Rock” in the year 2000. His screen name was “mxpxguitarplayer” and mine was “progroupie,” even then we were a well matched pair, though we wouldn’t see it that way for at least 13 more years.

We used to share some things in common back then, like enjoying music, and being active in our Christian youth groups and such. I think we had crushes on each other then too, but there were certain obstacles that we couldn’t overcome. We didn’t really know what the other one looked like, I lived in south Florida, and he lived in Toronto. Plus, there was the added stigma of him being younger (he was 13, and I was 15), and there was no way I could contemplate having a crush on someone younger than myself (not for at least another several years).

We remained friends, and I maintained the illusory construct that he was more like my little brother than a potential mate. There was a period of time when we lost touch for about two years, and then in 2007 I got a friend request on Facebook from a familiar name.

It was Hans, and he somehow had found me and wanted to be friends. I was stoked to be back in touch with him and catch up on all that I had missed. He was in Australia on tour. He was married. All kinds of things had happened! I had finished school and moved to Portland, OR. And we had tons of photos of all of that life, right there on the internet.

There were certain things I always knew about Hans, which was that he was really a nice genuine person, and that he was incredibly silly at all times. I knew he was an avid skateboarder, and musician. I knew he had had recent success being a DJ/Producer. But I didn’t know just how damn attractive he was on top of all those things.

Knowing all kinds of things about a person, doesn’t necessarily mean you have synthesized that information. I still couldn’t see him as anything more than the friend that I had known for years. He was Hansy, my silly Canadian friend whom I could talk to about all manner of things. There was no way I could allow myself to feel the gravitational pull of attraction. I loved him as a family member, as a brother even, but that was all.

He was in Canada, that posed enough of an obstacle, but he was married on top of that. No, I mustn’t allow myself to feel or acknowledge this beyond face value. Though I knew I found him attractive, and that he was an awesome person, any kind of putting those two thoughts together wasn’t going to be allowed to happen. There was a disconnect, which I think is a survival instinct in this day and age. I mean, why allow myself to develop feelings for someone I couldn’t have, that would be starting in 5th grade all over again. Unrequited love, pining in full effect from 3,000 miles away. No way, not a chance. Way too impractical. Move along, nothing to see here!

2013, January. Hans messages me, we begin our conversation in the usual silly way, but something is different. What’s up? Hans is distraught. He thinks his wife is going to leave him. Oh no! What is happening? My heart goes out to my friend, who is hurting, and I try to find out what’s going on. I try to comfort him, and give him any advice I can. Ultimately, I know all I can do is listen and try to be a good friend.

Previous to this really serious and intense conversation, most of our conversations hadn’t been all that deep. Maybe it was because we liked to talk a bunch of silliness, or keep it casual, and talk about what was going on around us. But things hadn’t usually been in depth emotionally, not that I can remember. That may have been due to us holding back, subconsciously afraid of what might happen.

Over the course of a couple weeks, Hans had moved back in with his parents, and gotten broken up with. She said she didn’t love him anymore. He wrote her a letter. I listened to him, as his heart was breaking. I tried my best to cheer him up, and be his friend, all the while I started to realize something.

I’m talking to Hans a lot more lately, than usual. I’m talking to him nearly constantly, and for hours at a time. What does that mean? Does that mean anything? Oh my god, I have a crush on him. Shit. Well, I can’t do anything about it, or say anything about it. I mean, he’s going through so much of his own emotions right now, it would be awful of me to say anything and put anything more on him. So I kept my feelings to myself. The one thing I did do early on was to invite him to come down to New Orleans to get away from everything. That was part me, being a friend, and part me being like “and in the mean time I can help you get over your ex.” Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Over the next month or so, we still continued to talk all the time. And we were laughing a lot. We were Skypeing for hours at a time. I had to ask myself a few things after that. Okay, I know that I have a thing for him, but I haven’t said anything. But ask yourself this, maybe he feels the same way, maybe he likes you too, why else would he be talking to you all the time? I mean, he was going to school full time and working, but still found time to talk to me. It was then I decided that I wasn’t going to modify my speech or anything, or try to hide anything. I wasn’t going to be explicit in my feelings. It wasn’t going to be one of those outpouring of feelings with the expectation of an answer. I was just going to not stop myself from acting in ways that came naturally. Whatever would happen would be fine, at least I was being real. And what happened? Turned out he was going to do the same. I don’t know what was the exact moment beyond this decision, but we somehow both realized at the same time that we had feelings for one another, and it seemed to progress naturally from there.

On the sixth of May 2013, Hans flew to New Orleans for one week- to see me! I was so excited. I had been looking forward to it for months, counting down the days. I was so nervous about meeting him in person for the first time. What if everything we felt was in our heads? What if when we met it wasn’t right? What if someone’s feelings changed? I had done this before in the past, met someone online, it wasn’t anything new, and usually it didn’t work out or go anywhere. The odds weren’t in our favor.

I wanted to meet him at the airport, so my friend Victoire was going to give me a ride. She was picking up a friend from the airport too that day. I was to meet her at Kajun’s and we would go to the airport together. I had a brand new outfit picked out. She was over an hour late picking me up from Kajun’s so I had a few whiskeys in me to bolster my confidence.

When we got to the airport Victoire dropped me off and went to go find parking. Hans didn’t have a working phone, so he was tethered to the WiFi in the airport. Apparently, I had been dropped off on the wrong floor, so I had to go inside and go upstairs to arrivals. I went outside and looked around, didn’t see Hans, or anyone resembling him. Then I remembered he couldn’t be outside because the WiFi didn’t work out there. I looked back toward the sliding doors and I spotted him. He was on his iPad, several yards away, at the place between inside doors and outside doors.

I go inside, and I know since I spotted him first that I can go up behind him. I go into the airport and around to the other exit where he was and gently grasp his arm. He turns around and looks at me. Realizing I have my sunglasses on, I quickly lift them to the top of my head, so we can make actual real life eye contact for the first time.

Cue expansive ethereal music.

We hug. I can feel how nervous we both are, but how relieved too, and how excited. He bends down to kiss me. He is so tall, like a foot taller than me, so I have to stand on my toes.

Cue fireworks.

Copy of bestphotoever

We had to find Victoire and wait for her friend, Matthieu to get through customs and immigration at another gate in the airport. I remember certain things, like the couch outside the bathroom where he waited for me. We kissed and I literally knocked his hat off.

Walking hand in hand to the other terminal. Finding the car in the parking garage. The scenic ride through the French Quarter as we gazed into each others eyes, seemingly struck dumb, or giddy, or whatever the hell falling in love is. I don’t even know what happened next, Victoire dropped us off somewhere and we had to walk home, but I don’t remember the walk home. I guess I was in a brain chemical soup!

We had a lovely week together. I tried to enjoy every moment in the moment, and not think that after just seven short days, I would lose what I had just gained. I chose not to acknowledge it because I knew it would happen soon enough and there was no point wasting tears on it now. But something amazing happened.

May 13, 2013 Hans was supposed to leave, to go back to Canada. But he didn’t. He knew I wanted him to stay, and he wanted to stay too. He told me he didn’t want to have to say goodbye, he didn’t want to see me cry.

And so he stayed, for as long as he could, until his visa was about to expire. Then he had to go back to Canada. We already knew we had a bond so strong, and that we were now a family. So began the realization that I did not want to keep doing this. That I did not want to live without him. That we needed to form a union, so that even the governments of our countries couldn’t keep us apart.

Thank you for reading our story! Most importantly, thank you for your love and support!

Amari

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