Saturday, January 20, 2007
Love Letter

This one's going to be nauseatingly sentimental -- turn away if you're squeamish.

Ten years ago today, I got an odd little note via email from some guy I'd never heard of before. Some months prior, I'd posted my email address on a web directory for other reasons entirely(this was in the naive days of the early internet, before the spammers had begun practicing their dark art in earnest) and had off-handedly listed "New Zealand" as an interest, only for the sake of filling in the blank. I was genuinely interested in New Zealand, of course -- I'd had an epiphany some while earlier after having accidentally rented The Piano and Meet the Feebles, initially unaware of any geographical connection between them, and after further research had become enthralled by this tiny island country at the end of the world that made bizarre, beautiful films. But when I typed the words into that text field, I wasn't actually looking for anything.

Anyway, I got this email, saying (I'm sure he can reproduce the exact wording if I get this wrong), "hello, I'm a New Zealander, what do you want to know?" I was on a break from Christmas vacation cleaning crew duty at college, so I didn't answer right away -- in fact, I think I actually mulled it over for a couple of days before I sent any reply. I mean, the guy might have been a psycho killer, right? And then when I finally wrote back, I have absolutely no idea what I said. But the point is, I did reply, and then he replied, and then I replied, and he replied... and that was ten years ago, and we haven't stopped replying yet (though some of us are generally more timely than others... ahem.) That email was hands-down the absolute all-time best email I ever got, ever.

Since then, my Christopher has become my most beloved, most trusted friend. He's filled any number of different roles in my life -- he's been the object of my innocent crushes, my surrogate big brother, my wise counsel, my sympathetic listener, my unwavering supporter, a frequent recipient of long, meandering, half-realized philosophies, and he's always one of the first people to know when something interesting happens to me. He's heard about my various romantic encounters in excrutiating detail. He's heard all of my schemes and plans -- both those I've realized and those which failed -- often before anyone else even knew I was up to something. He's filled in for other people who were absent during big events -- advising me on new loves, consoling me over broken hearts, congratulating me on triumphs, encouraging me to attempt the hard things, and just generally being on my side. In many ways, he became the steady, reliable, benevolent male presence I never had in my life. He put up with me when I was an insufferable 21-year-old, and and he puts up with me now that I'm an insufferable 31-year-old.

But here's the funny thing: I've never actually, y'know, met him. I've never gotten to put my arms around him and kiss his cheek and tell him how happy I am to have him around. I've never gotten to sit down with him and tell him (awkwardly, trying to be cool) how much he means to me. I've seen his face, and he's seen mine, but I've never actually seen him.

I know, that's kind of weird. This is what technology hath wrought.

But you know what? I don't care. Anything that brings Christopher into my life is worth any amount of existential strangeness. In some ways, I think it's even been better this way -- we've never been within half a globe of each other, but we can also never really move away. We're never in proximity, but we're also never out of reach. Friends who are tied to a certain place and time have a tendency, more often than not, to fade away once you've moved on; it's hard work to translate an in-person relationship to the remoteness of long distances. But Chris and I have both crossed oceans and formed new identities and established new lives, with no discernable interruptions in our friendship: after everything that's happened, we're still tight.

So after ten years, I just want to tell Chris again how much I love him, and how much he means to me. I really believe that I would not be who I am, and would not have half as happy a life, if he hadn't sent that brief, random note to a stranger back in 1996. And all I want is to hopefully do the same for him, as far as I'm able.

(And I hope reading this makes him cry like a little girl. ;) )
6:21 PM ::
Amy :: permalink