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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kissing Frogs

During the year as I slowly spiraled out of control the loneliness was palpable. 

The one place where I would go to escape my mind and be myself was the fairy tale world that resided in cyberspace. In this virtual playground you could always find some stranger willing to chat from some corner of the world.

I'd talk to some for a few hours, some lasted days or weeks, but I'd grow tired of some and others would grow tired of me and that was that. With a few there would be phone calls putting a voice to the words, but those were saved for the most sane and interesting of the lot.

Contained within my computer was a microcosm of society and during the year I met almost any type that you can imagine. Some were kind and generous, some were perverts, some were insane, some were nice, some were lonely, some were mourning, some were trapped in bad marriages, some were nursing emotional wounds, but they were all frogs - not a prince in the virtual pond.

 I was never really looking to meet someone but in the back of my mind I always left open the possibility that maybe that could happen - maybe in the vast world of the Internet I'd be one of those crazy stories you hear where two people meet and it just works. Call it the Disney-effect but I kept looking for that prince on horseback that would spot me, sing a few catchy tunes, fight my evil nemesis, marry me in his castle with all the royal subjects looking on and then we'd live happily ever after, the end. That fairy tale was just as likely as me meeting anyone in real life so I figured I might as well dream big.

After a crazy week where I'd started a sabbatical from work, went to therapy, let a few people in on my diagnosis, started my list that would shape my future life and ingested happy pills there was nothing that I wanted more than to escape my reality with a little jump in the pond.

I logged in and began my short journey via a few clicks into the fray.

Now I only needed to pick my poison for where I'd travel this night. Tonight I chose a dating site. I entered some search parameters that included "online now" and waited for the results to return. I scanned down the list and about the fourth one down jumped out at me. I read the short digest version of the profile that appeared and it was promising. I clicked to the larger profile and found someone that appeared to have the gift of being verbose just like I did. And not only that, but he was cute and interesting.

I sent a very simple instant message asking if he'd care to chat. While most times I'd try to find something interesting in the profile for a starting line there was something about the honesty in this one I'd just read that said I didn't need to play the pick-up line game.

 My ""I'd love to chat with you if you are open to it" sent around 8:30 p.m. August 7 was met with an almost instant response of "right now? :)" Perfect! Already I was beginning to feel the value of the escape capturing me. While I chatted I didn't have to live within my mind.

I couldn't believe it when I glanced down at the time in the corner of my laptop. How in the world had this guy captured my attention for three hours without it feeling like it at all? Soon after I pointed this out we switched to the phone. When he asked for my number I didn't hesitate or tell him I'd prefer to call as I had every time before so that I could block my number. Something in my gut told me that this guy was everything he appeared and everything he appeared was wonderful. He was perfect.

At some point my phone beeped alerting me that I needed to plug into the charger which elicited a glance at the clock - it was now nearly 3 a.m. Not only was I wide awake and not exhausted for the first time in a year, but I was enthralled and time seemed to have ceased. I mentioned the time, it was noted and neither of us made a move to end the call. I made my next mention of the time somewhere around 5 a.m. and then again around 7 a.m.

We talked and talked and talked.

We covered a broad range of topics and there just never seemed to be an awkward moment or lull in the conversation. It was after 9 a.m. when we finally decided that we did need to hang up the phone. I didn't want to, but I even knew that more than 12 hours of talking was enough of me for anyone.

As I laid in bed waiting for sleep to overtake me I replayed parts of the conversation, but unlike my usual self I didn't over-analyze it, I didn't even analyze it. I just wanted to commit it to memory, relive it and cherish it.

 It was like the best high I'd ever had. For twelve blissful hours happiness had overcome me. And more curious than anything was that this guy - this very interesting, good looking, charming, real guy - seemed to genuinely like the person on the other end of the phone and that person for once was all me with no acting. Nothing that I told him appeared to scare him away. We laughed, we had serious moments, I expressed every thought when I thought it without over-thinking or holding back. And now after all that realness he still seemed to mean it when he asked if we could talk again. I didn't know when he would grow bored with me but I knew that there was no chance that I would grow tired of him. I was sure that at some point being me would topple whatever this was, the clock would strike midnight and my coach would turn into a pumpkin, but until then I was going to enjoy every minute of the attention he gave me and ride the fairy tale high.

I slept and after I woke and showered without thinking or calculating I sent a text. It was promptly answered. So I hadn't imagined that he hadn't hated me. Back and forth we went via text only a few hours after we'd stopped talking.  Later that night more texts. The next day a phone call that lasted nearly five hours. I wanted to think that this guy was crazy for seeming to find me - the real me - interesting but I knew with every once of my being that he was normal and wonderful.

Somehow in that pond of frogs I'd found a prince.

The first few weeks we didn't talk every day but as the weeks went on it became every night. I looked forward to every evening as I hadn't anything for a long, long time. Talking to him was better than any pill. I was alive, I was happy, I looked forward to things, I was no longer exhausted, I was living and it was all because this knight in shining armor has rescued me when he didn't even know I was drowning.

Only two secrets I kept from him - that I was in treatment for depression and that I was off of work because of it. I even hated those small white lies of omission, but while he liked everything else I didn't want to risk having it all taken away from me.

So essential to my recovery had he become; so essential to my life. I didn't need the castle or the ball gown or the noble steed or the fairy godmother - all I needed was the conversation with my hero and life was brighter and  making the effort to recover made sense to me in the context of knowing him.

So many times I've tried to express what he has meant to me. Even now it's not adequate. He made my life make sense. I was drowning and he helped me surface. And for once in my life someone had accepted me for me - all of me - with my warts and all.

Poor prince didn't meet a princess that night but I'm thankful that this one is a fan of frogs.

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