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June 20, 1999: there always remains my obsession


You may or may not having noticed that I haven't really described my life very much in this journal. There's been some talk about my work (or lack thereof), but not my social life. Even if you imagine I have no social life, you will notice a lack of me describing trips to the store or such and whatnot.

Part of this is because lately, there hasn't been that much of that. I've been meaning to write an entry about the last few books I've read, but I haven't been particularly psyched about it. They were quite some time ago. In the last few months, I haven't bought much besides Beatles: The Complete Scores.

Part of this is because I'm not going to talk about something unless I'm really thinking about it. Stuff that happens but that isn't worth further thought isn't worth writing about.

You'll notice I have talked about my interactions with other people while exploring the job possibility, and I did talk about the wedding I went to. So, I'll come clean: I haven't kept any secrets about my social life here. The only thing social things I've done that don't show up are various (not very significant) interactions with other people on-line.

I moved to Boston five years ago this month, I believe, after living in Texas for two years. In that time, I've failed to really ever connect with anyone as good friends, or land in any regular social circles. Well, discounting the girlfriend I had for five or six months.

In a sense, I've basically just gotten used to my life being this way. I'm a big-time introvert, although I'm not actually anti-social, so my failure to make friends isn't really surprising. So I've gotten used to being alone although I'm not really a loner. Actually, when I was visiting my college friends for a day in March, I was actually reminded of how much I liked being around other people. Oh well. Perhaps Boston is just kind of a dead-end for me and I should try somewhere else.

The problem is that I just don't meet people, which makes it hard to make friends. Normally I make a friend or three somehow, and then meet their social circle, and it grows from there, but that hasn't happened in Boston. Nobody ever got to the state of inviting me to go do things.

So mostly, for human contact, I sit around and hang out with people I know online. Which works, to a certain extent. I still feel pretty alone, but it's better than nothing. And even so, I'm basically used to it. I've sort of convinced myself that this is "normal" for me.

Two years ago, I wasn't even really hanging out with anyone online. I was posting to talk.bizarre, but I wasn't on the mud that a bunch of t.b'ers hang out on, so the interaction wasn't very social, it was more literary.

A few months later, I made a friend out of someone on the net, and she and I started chatting frequently on-line. She was (is) a complicated person, and I'm going to have to tread carefully here, because it's perfectly possible for her to read this stuff, and I don't want to upset her; and moreover, it's possible that people might figure out who she is, and I don't want to reveal personal details about her.

Even though we seemed to like each other a lot, she kept putting me off from meeting her in person, but always with delaying tactics, never with "no"; and then one day she started dating somebody in her real life, and that was the end of that possibility.

See, much like I talked about being a social loner, I feel pretty much the same way about relationships. I don't want to be a loner; I like people and I would like to be with someone special. But I had by then gotten used to the idea that it was simply never going to happen. The way my brain works, I just don't meet people. Yeah, it's not totally impossible--I've had three girlfriends in the last 13 years; but none of them were particularly good fits with my personality, and that only accounts for maybe 15 months out of 150. Anyway, I was used to it, I was ready for the idea I was going to be alone forever.

So when I started chatting with her, I suddenly felt like, wow, here's somebody who likes me, who's interested in me, we seem to have good rapport; and I stopped believing it was ok that I would be alone forever... and then boom.

The problem is, I'd be ok if I just lapsed back into the "ok, I'm going to be alone forever, that's life, on we go". Instead, I spent a long time in a state that, for lack of a better term, I'm going to call "obsession". I knew she was with this other guy, and I knew it was serious, but I could at least hope that things might not work out with him.

And since this had happened to me once before, and I had moved away from the woman I was interested in, and called her only once every six months, and one time I called her she was still dating the same guy, and the next time I called her, she was dating someone else, well, I decided I needed to stay close to this one if I wanted to get a chance.

So I stayed close (on-line) to her, which probably fueled the obsession. Finally, after months and months of a torturous friendship, and at the prodding of a good on-line friend, I called it quits with her. Not because I think she's evil; just because spending on-line time with her seemed to be destructive--seemed to be bad for me.

Well, that seemed to work. I don't think about her all the time. I don't say to myself "I don't want to move away from Boston because I might miss out on a chance with her" anymore.

On Friday, the doorbell rang in the early afternoon. It woke me up from my crazy sleep schedule. I figured it was UPS, and I didn't answer it. They kept ringing, and ringing, and ringing. But I've had my fill of Jehovah's Witnesses and Sierra Club. I'm not going to get out of bed to answer the door. They can come back another day, or call.

In hindsight, once I was really awake, it was more like the pattern you might expect from somebody who was locked out of the house; if I had thought of that at the time, I certainly would have gone to answer it; but I was too sleepy to think that.

Later that day, after I woke up for real, I went online to check my mail and whatnot, and ran into a public posting from the object of my prior obsession. The details aren't important; the main thing was that she sounded a little depressed, and it was possible to interpret what she said as the possibility that her boyfriend had dumped her; it could have also been a comment about me having quit being friends with her, or it could have meant nothing.

During the time before she started dating this other guy, one of her fears was that she would "lose control" of her emotions and come visit me in person, even though she felt intellectually like that was a bad idea, soemthing she wasn't ready for. It was something she might do if she "went off the deep end"--if she got too freaked out.

Suddenly I found myself obsessing over the possibility that it had been her ringing my doorbell. "Oh my god, that could have been my one big chance, and I blew it!"

This is why I said stopping talking to her "seemed to work". Obviously, I still haven't really gotten over it yet.

Note: I still don't know who rang the doorbell that day, but I can separate wishful thinking from reality. Still, to simplify my life, I sent her email asking if she was ok, knowing that she would say 'yes' and that with that information I could shake myself out of the belief that it she might have rang the doorbell. Which all played out in exactly that fashion.

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attribution dammit: A Song for Europe Roxy Music