Dear Comedy Writer (you know who you are),
Last week, you told me that you’d rated my journal 9 out of 10 and that I’d lost a point because I didn’t mention you. You were teasing me, but you do make a good point — I rarely mention my friends. Part of it is because, despite appearances (the rich dream life that anyone can read about, for example), I’m private and keep my friendships private, too. Most of my friends who don’t know each other also don’t know about one another.
For me, however, the online world is largely about friendships — primarily because the so-called real world is not conducive to making friends for people like you and me, who are different, whose tastes are unusual, whose reading is eclectic, and who are reserved and introverted. Where would we make friends? Not at work. Not at bars — I don’t know about you, but I rarely go out, and no one out there is anything like me. There are always things like volunteer organizations, but I haven’t done that in a while, either.
So there’s here, the online universe, where people can read what I write and decided for themselves, without my participation or knowledge, whether I’m their kind of folks. We e-mail, chat, exchange photos, and, if we’re lucky, we continue to exchange ideas.
It isn’t always as satisfying as having a friend in person, of course. I can’t call you or knock on your door and say, “Let’s go get something to eat” or “Want to come over to watch a movie?” We can’t give each other the physical comfort of a heartfelt hug when we’re down. But I can try to imagine you sitting across from me, me with coffee, you with beer (you hate coffee, as you keep reminding me) in a restaurant or outdoor café, people watching and making wry commentary. We could speculate about people’s occupations, interests, and even sex lives, in the bitterly humorous way that seems to be second nature with us. I can imagine people wondering what we are laughing at — ourselves, as much as anyone else.
We’ve known each other for nearly five years, having met on a certain Usenet group at a time when you were suffering and I was beginning to climb out of the pit that had sucked me down and was sucking the life out of me. I think I contacted you first, because I sent an e-mail that began with, “Welcome.” We talked about how it’s easier to “pretend everything is ok.”
You were so curious about me that you looked up my real name and photos and other information. It was risky on your part, because I might have been upset, but I was flattered. Someone found me intriguing enough not to ignore me after a brief exchange! And to want to know more about me! And then you didn’t seem to find me ugly — one of my fears that had often been justified.
And you’ve stuck with me, even when I’ve been sick and miserable — not easy to do, I’m certain. We don’t agree on everything, even some very important ones, but I think we do agree that very little is worth jeopardizing such a rare friendship over. Despite our fears and our mistrust of everyone, we have come to trust each other — at least a little.
Since we began talking in April 2000 through e-mail, ICQ, AIM, letters, and even on the phone, a lot has changed for both of us. You’ve gone to college and gotten a degree, and you’ve moved a few times. You’ve been hospitalised after a brutal attack, and I’ve undergone outpatient surgery. I’ve been promoted at work, finally moved into a much better place, and even tried to have a relationship. I truly believe I have more confidence in myself because you’ve made me feel that I have possibilities. And I hope you feel that way, too.
Whatever happens, good or bad, to us, I hope that we will always have each other.