The One and Only Jason back again, and once again I am posting up my work from the online workshop I have been speaking of lately. The topic for the day was to write about something that I have yet to forgive myself for or something that is eating away at me.
At first I was not sure where to go with this, because although I have done plenty of things in my life of which I am not proud, I do not carry around much guilt about them. The way I see it all of my choices have led me to exactly where I am right now and to be honest I generally like where I am. However, I do have nagging doubts and insecurities so I decided to write about some of those and this time instead of writing a prose based reflection I attempted to turn it into a small sliver of a story so here goes…
It has been 3 months since James had started trying online dating and so far nothing had seemed to work out all too well. James had always felt unsure about meeting people online, but had to admit that ever since he moved back home his formerly limited social life became entirely non existent. Eventually, loneliness overtook caution and James decide to take the plunge into the virtual dating world.
At first James’ fears and suspicions seemed to be confirmed. Conversations were short and stilted, while a lack of trust pervaded throughout every interaction and every profile page. If it seemed too good to be true than it almost certainly was and James noticed his old friends loneliness and depression creep their way back into his life. He had to admit that he was no more honest in his profile than he was judging others for being. Granted the pictures were actually of himself, but they were so carefully selected and shot from flattering angles so as to disguise what he really looked like. Not to mention the words James chose to answer his profile questions. Were the answers honest, yes. However, everything was once again so meticulously crafted in order to disguise flaws that James almost did not recognize the person his profile described.
On his better days, when personal demons and insecurities were not getting the best of him, James would rationalize all of this out by comparing it to actual dating. Even in face to face interactions people are not genuine with each other at first. If anything the anonymity of being online seemed to make everyone even more picky than they would normally be, so it only seemed natural to try embellish your profile to earn attention.
James oscillated between these moods so often that he began to wonder if he might not be bi-polar. As time progressed and James went back and forth in his head, the habit of online dating became a part of his routine. Wake up, make a cup of coffee, check email, then social media, and finally check out the dating website. As James grew more comfortable within this routine he sent more and more messages to promising looking women in the hopes of starting conversation. He quickly found that starting a conversation online was far more difficult than doing so in person, because it is far easier to just flat out ignore someone.
Then one day he noticed a message in his inbox.
“Hi there, I noticed on your profile you listed your religion as other, what does that mean? Are you pagan, atheist, or do you worship Joe Pesci? I am always interested to see what other means to people.”
‘Holy shit’, thought James. Befuddled by actually receiving a communication on a site designed to communicate James decide to check out this woman’s profile. He had to admit that she seemed rather interesting. She liked the same kind of movies he did and they enjoyed similar tastes in music. After cyber stalking this woman a thoroughly as possible James finally decided to message her back.
“Wow! I have to admit I was surprised to get your message, especially with the Carlin reference. I have to admit you seem to have good taste. The religion thing is kind of a long story, lets just say I am a student of religion and so what I believe is a mash up of several different belief systems.
I would love to talk about it with you sometime, maybe over coffee?”
“That sounds great but I am getting ready to go out of town for a week tomorrow”
“No worries, how about we plan to meet up the Saturday after next? By the way my name is James and I am very pleased to meet you as it were.”
“I am Roslyn and that sounds great. I have to run for now but I will talk to you later.”
For the next few days the two continues to speak through messages on the website, until eventually comfort levels grew and they exchanged phone numbers. James was blown away by Roslyn. He had never found anyone with whom he had so much in common, and his days started revolving around the text message conversations they were sharing. By all accounts this was the most promising woman James had ever met. But, today is the day of the meeting.
James rolled out of bed after a night of restless sleep. Nerves always did this to him, he was the kid that couldn’t sleep on Christmas Eve as we would just toss and turn all night long. James was now officially obsessing over meeting Roslyn for the first time. Playing every possible scenario he could imagine in his mind over and over until he wanted to pull his hair out. They were supposed to meet this afternoon so he still had a few hours to kill.
James decided to sit down and play some video games in an attempt to distract himself, and it worked marginally. At the very least it kept him busy until he had to start getting ready. James had never been terribly concerned with self presentation, but he found himself very concerned with it now. After agonizing over outfits he decided on his best pair of jeans and a nice purple polo, so as to look nice but not too stuffy.
Finally, after showering, shaving and getting ready James walked into his bedroom, looked directly into the mirror and said, “what the hell are you doing?”. Doubt and fear were starting to creep into James’ thoughts.
‘This girl isn’t going to be anything like she is online. Worse yet she is going to take one good look at me and run. Either that, or she will think I am boring and leave at the first opportunity. Is any of this even worth it?’
This was a struggle James was all too familiar with as it seemed to come up every time he was about to meet someone new. It had been almost a year since James had been able to muster the nerve to leave his apartment for anything more than groceries, taking out the garbage, or checking the mail. Even though James had been so hopeful about this day, he now knew that he was fighting a losing battle. Deep down James knew something had to give. He had to get out of this rut and thrust himself into the world once again, but it wasn’t going to be today.