The following is the first draft of a piece written for WRIT220. It is approximately 1000 words long, so I realize most of you will not have the patience to read it. If you don’t read it, don’t comment. Otherwise, comments and criticisms are greatly appreciated. Some of the hypens should be dashes instead, and were mistakenly converted.
Her hair was frizzy, a nest of locks. She climbed down the steps of her dorm in a sweater I didn’t like, smiling with huge teeth. It didn’t matter that I didn’t like the sweater. She could’ve been wearing anything, a top hat and a purple tutu or cyan spandex and an orange muumuu. She could’ve been wearing anything or nothing-well, the nothing I would have to work for, I suppose, but it would be worth it. I returned the smile and waved with big eyes. A piece of my lip slid between my teeth in apprehension. That’s how I met my wife.
As unbelievable as it may sound, Al Gore introduced us. Yes, that’s right, former vice-president, almost president if it wasn’t for those lousy Saudis, Al Gore. How’d it happen? Through Al Gore’s most infamous contribution to the world, the internet. Actually, a mutual friend introduced us in a chat room–as cliched as it sounds. I threw a short hello, as netiquette required, and we joined the conversation already in progress. Later, that same night, she messaged me for a more intimate talk. I suppose she thought my emoticons were charming. Or perhaps she was seduced by the hehe’s that appeared in every other sentence. I lusted over her big, voluptuous words and steaming, hot wit. We talked online every night that week, enraptured by each other’s words. Through glowing terminals, we touched glowing hearts, caught in a world wide web of attraction.
There are two things about talking to someone online that make it different from a face-to-face conversation: 1) you have a longer time to think about what you want to say and 2) you can’t see the person you’re talking to. Instant messaging is therefore the great equalizer, as a godsend to the slower, more gruesome among us. Thanks to the internet, the dull Quasimotos have a chance against the handsome Cyranos. Online, there is no body language, no gesticulation, no charming grins, and no batting eyelashes. With keyboard-speak, you can always claim that the last idiotic thing you said was a joke, or brag about the box of puppies you rescued from a flooding river, without worrying about keeping a straight face.
So, we said things to each other we might not have said in person. “I know four different languages,” she claimed, “Mandarin, Spanish, English, obviously, and Swahili.” “Swahili? Wow, you’re incredible! But, I’m surprised you don’t know French. I could give you lessons, if you’d like.” See? What kind of person would use such a ridiculously awful line in person? No one but the most socially inept losers out there would even attempt. In an online conversation, however, it’s completely conceivable to get away with such triteness.
More than flirting, our conversations drew feeling from emotional wells. Our relationship was a flash flood-and the possibilities washed over us, carrying us away. The emotional dams that we all build, the safeguards against naivety and gullibility, against what might shatter our hearts, were succumbing to infinite pressure. We discovered profound places inside us we thought were myth, like Troy unearthed. Our families, desires, and dreams flowed together like tributaries into a river. “How do I know everything you’ve told me is real? How do I know that what you say you’re feeling is real? How do I know that this isn’t all some cruel game that you’re playing with me ” she poured, her voice quivering. It had been a week since we first talked, and the first time we had been on the phone together. “I can’t know myself, if I truly feel what I feel.” “So, what am I supposed to think?” the doubts rained in her mind and out her lips, and I grasped for an umbrella. “Meet me. Meet me tomorrow–I mean today,” it was early in the morning, around three or four, “Meet me, and then you’ll see it in my face when I tell you.” “I don’t know… I’m leaving for home at around seven,” her voice quaked. “I’ll walk you to the station. I’ve been telling you how I feel. Let me show you. We won’t really know if this is all real until we meet.” She succumbed.
The whirlwind week would climax with that morning. That morning she walked down her steps, and we smiled to each other. She walked with steps like fingers tapping keys, quick, but awkward, and I stumbled behind her. My stomach was coiled. My back was moist. My feet were unsteady. My throat was arid. My mind was deserted. I was a mural of blank, barren tundra, lichen, and cow skulls. She led me to her room, and we sat on rickety desk chairs, I wondered if I was safe–if ever I could be safe. We sat down and we smiled at each other. When our eyes met, they courtesied, and began a gentle waltz, then a spicy samba. All was well, we talked like we had before, only now, we watched each other, and we danced. I watched the corner of her mouth stretch into a crooked grin when I said something I thought was funny. I watched hair fall to curtain her eyes, and brush her cheek. I wanted to brush her cheek, stroke it with a sable hair in a mixture of raw sienna and gamboge. Laughter and joy splattered the walls and now I was a shimmering substance that even Pollock couldn’t fathom–we were the artists, and the subjects, and she was the art.
We parted that day on a train platform, like one of those romantic, zebra flicks that ladies seem to gush over. I turned to leave her, promising to see her again. I had a good feeling about the day, but I wasn’t sure if she felt as strongly about me as I did about her. I intended for the hug to be short, so I tried to release her within seconds of beginning. She held me closer to her and would not relent. Not that I wanted to be freed–I just didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing. I squeezed tighter–it said everything that I didn’t know how to say. Grizzled men murmured on their benches. Business women in power skirts hurried passed with rushed glances. We didn’t care; we were young, and wanted to celebrate–despite the danger.