Be My 21st Century Valentine
by Natalie Robin
“Honesty: The best of all the lost arts.” – Mark Twain
Since my last few posts have been all about this bizarre 21st century drama I’ve been going through, and today happens to be Valentine ’s Day, I thought it’d be the perfect time to talk about love and the internet and WHY ON EARTH WOULD SOMEONE DO IT—at least why I have done it.
It’s sometimes hard to say when and where a personality trait manifests itself, but in my case I think my shyness must have been at least somewhat hereditary. One of my aunts tells me that when I should have been going through my terrible two’s, I would stand around like a tiny museum curator just looking around at things as if I was assessing their proper place. As I got older, I stayed shy, and only had a very tight-knit circle of friends that I did not stray from. Doing things like asking questions in class or talking on the phone were horrifying to me. Kissing my boyfriends was out of the question. Most of them broke up with me for it. Writing therefore proved to be a form of monumental expression for me. My real-time actions and interactions were not expressive on their own in the way I knew I could be if I wasn’t trapped by my reticence. By now I have learned the skills to better identify with people in face to face situations and if anything, mask any anxieties I may have, but that small, bashful girl always has a gentle hand tugging at my cloth.
Though despite that I am not the most forthcoming of people, I feel like I am among the most loving of people. I am sensitive to what people say to me and what I say to them in return. I empathize, I synthesize, and I try to understand. I fall in love with something, if not multiple things, every day. So what do you do when your heart is in a constant state of feeling, but by some haphazard fusing of genetics and environment your best expression is merely the blush of your cheek?
I found my solution to this when the internet first materialized in my home at thirteen years old. Nothing suited me better than to be able to satiate the biological need for companionship, while maintaining a distance where I could still protect my social discomforts. It never was a quest for love of course. At first, I thought loving people you’ve never met was illogical and in opposition to the very basics of being human, but when you consider that love is only of the body after it is of the mind, to love solely by way of intellectual expression seems possible. I have said “I love you” to people without ever having met them. I’ve felt excited about them, concerned about them, and comforted by their existence even if it was far from my own. I have come to understand that the way I feel love is most often abstract and metaphysical. Maybe I need tangibility less than most people, and maybe that makes me a freak, but I’ve stopped being embarrassed by that at this point.
Though there is the question of moving beyond a platonic love and into something more. Can you know the full scope of that kind of love without meeting someone? The answer is obviously to each their own. I think you have to meet them—if nothing other than to smell them and see if you like their pheromones, though I can’t deny wanting to love someone you’ve never met.
When I started talking to the person in my catfish story, at first I was only doing something I had done with others in my life already—learning about someone through our verbal exchange. Assuming that who I was speaking to was the man that they said they were, I wanted to love him, and I built that desire off nothing other than words. However, I was twenty-five and became quickly dissatisfied with the lack of tangibility. As you have probably read by now, I was never offered the things necessary to find that “full scope”, and instead was only allowed to chase the silk strings that trailed from their presence.
With all that said, between the internet and real-life I have never been romantically in love with a man. Maybe I need to get my ass out in the world more now that I am not caught up in some weird, abusive text/internet drama. Even before that though, I have always been (mostly) single. I have yet to figure out why considering I am such a capable, eloquent love-r in other aspects of my life. I am sure much of it is due to the acknowledged reserve in my character. I also wax and wane between wanting a companion and feeling too independent to need one. Maybe it is an assumed independence because I am still shy.
My internet fiasco has not changed the glory I see in love. I still daydream about how and when I will meet the man of my dreams. I daydream of having a husband and a little baby girl that looks like me, but is better than me in every way. Obviously this dream doesn’t include the internet, but I do thank the internet for the years it allowed me to express myself through all the awkward moments of adolescence into adulthood. I am not confident that I will ever fall in-larger than life-love with someone, but I confidently want to. In the mean time I will continue to fall in love with little things everyday; the curiosity over whether there will be sun when I leave my apartment in the morning, some old chair left on a corner as “trash”, bridges, men and women that dress nice, clouds that make me believe there could be heaven. Maybe I will find someone who sees those things as a form of love as well and not simply as things in passing. I will continue to love my family and my friends just as I always have. I will continue to be thankful as all hell that they love me. I will continue to be honest and hope that people stop thinking that is a shameful thing.
As trite as it sounds, everyone deserves to be loved so if you don’t feel loved this Valentine’s Day, I love you.