How do you explain something that is not? A non…quality, characteristic or state? A thing that should be there and you expect to be there that startles and confuses by it’s absolute absence?
I have grappled with this phenomena for some time now. Trying to discern error, find my mistakes and understand my utter misconceptions.
Through the internet we can find the best of worlds and the worst of worlds. We may encounter the truest of friends and the craftiest of tricksters. Though as a rule I think largely we encounter fair weather friends. Nothing wrong or unusual about that because in normal non-virtual life we encounter such people constantly. That aside, there were a few people of whom I was absolutely certain were the stuff of profound friendship. And it was these people after literally hundreds of hours of phone talk, thousands of emails and regular exchanges of gifts and cards, I ventured to meet in the real world.
Not much of a risk really because it seemed we all knew each other so very well that in fact we were all dear old friends. I truly believed that and approached the meeting with great enthusiasm. However, within moments of meeting the first ‘old friend’ something told me I was terribly mistaken. The not-there was so not there that I felt disoriented and incredulous at once. Which was immediately followed by copious amounts of denial. I had to be imagining the lack of warmth, the indifference and lightly veiled antagonism. It was travel day after all and we were tired and not ourselves, right?
And so planes were boarded and eventually landed. And baggage problems greeted us at the airport which served as a useful distraction for a time… And then onto the next friend – the one whom I’d known the longest and the best and once again the not-there appeared and that void left me scratching my head in wonder. And then the next and …. And after everyone settled in, got rest, food and sunshine the not-there did not relent.
What made it worse for me was that I could see there were connections between the others – making me wonder what awful thing I’d done to be excluded. To inspire such indifference about my presence on a trip I was encouraged greatly to take.
The week was one of the longest of my life and though I was crammed into a house full of people it seemed I was utterly alone. And I didn’t think of much else than being home among friends. I couldn’t sleep, nor eat – hell I couldn’t even make a phone call because my cell fell into a water trap at the mini golf course – effectively cutting me off from everyone.
And when the big good bye finally came it was little more than a lift to the bus station with a wave and a ‘see ya.’
For weeks afterward I told myself I imagined it or must have misunderstood. Things would soon return to normal – but no, they never did. The void simply kept growing. And eventually I had to accept that the friendship, warmth and love I’d felt simply wasn’t mutual. And that was just the truth it pure and simple. As the saying goes they just ‘weren’t that into me.’ And the reasons and explanations that might have been offered were irrelevant because it wouldn’t change the truth.
For a long time I was hurt, angry and confused and part of me wanted some sort of vindication or validation. But eventually I realized there was no point in that kind of thinking either. You cannot make another person care about you – it cannot be done (and even if it could, what value is there in that?).
So…I let go and walked away. Not an easy thing to do when you feel so invested but under the circumstances certainly the right thing to do. For all of us. I wish them all well and bear them no malice. Perhaps just a tinge of lingering sadness over it all but this is life and life is full of interesting lessons.
And make no mistake, I don’t write this any kind of cautionary tale. I have made many wonderful online friends whom I hope to meet someday too and will approach those meetings in the same way. And even if I never do, my life is better for the presence of these people.
I think I just write this to so I can put it all to rest and finally move on.