I Met Her Online


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Dear Anna, before I fall too deep in love.

You’re my best friend and it’s a shame we have to do this via text. You know how it is with long distance. I want you to know what the last 3 months have really been like.MAC I met her online. Shauna was the third date I’d been on in Paris. 5 minutes into the conversation I struggled to connect to the Starbucks WiFi. I had picked up my phone to feign indifference. Of course it was dry. I ended up going through pictures. I saw the one where Brad was leaning on you, wasted after the club on Thursday, lol. But that’s another story.

I looked up as if she suddenly appeared in the room and said in some awful hybrid English accent, “How’s it going? I remember from our texts you said you were a student, what are you studying?”

She said she was getting her masters in Philosophy. She said she was French, and I said that’ s nice, but I’m English. To this day I couldn’t tell you why. You know how strange I get when I’m nervous.

She smiled and asked, “Does that bother you?”

I said “No, Je suis cool with le French.”

She said, “No, that I study Philosophy.”

I said, “No why would it bother me? Because you’ll probably struggle to find a job?”

She said, “No, because I am aware of that and I’m still okay with it.”

I didn’t realize it then, but in that very moment she owned me, Anna.

PlEgx5PSoiiJOmnE2izQ_NYC skyline empire-1I haven’t yet told you how beautiful she was. In fact I’ve been avoiding it, words are so small sometimes and they could never really grab what I saw that evening. Her face was not a picture it was a force. Her eyes, Anna. They were on the verge of tears or flames. Like a cornered tiger, a scene in Life of Pi or some shit. When she spoke, her face carried no bravado and no fear. It was just something else.

She went on to say, “Andy you’re going to hate me. You’re going to be so dreadfully unhappy and I’ll be fine. Your money, power and notoriety will wash off as you take your shower at night, but my bliss is my own, and it’s stained. I can see that you wear yours on you. I think it makes it easy for them to access it.”

My body began to tense. I never gave her license to call me Andy and I shower in the morning after the gym. I adjusted myself. I wasn’t sure what the normal thing to do with my face or hands was. I’d been spending too much time alone I think. I imagined she could tell that I was struggling. Telling me that I was going to hate her was worse than telling me that I was going to love her. It reached further.

I replied slowly, like I learned in that YouTube playlist on how to pick up women. I was to be at home. It was then Anna, I noticed how far away from home I was.

I said some gibberish like, “you think you have me all figured out.” The accent was gone.

We began seeing each other more frequently from week to week. I hated her more with each meeting, in every text. She would respond to my messages as quickly as possible. It’s 2014, Anna. She wasn’t even pretending not to see them. I was terrified.

I’d never met someone that existed as his or her own. Every thing she spoke about was some rich experience that was completely hers and had no interest of sharing. It wasn’t selfishness. Well not in the way we’ve been taught to think about it, it was just a whole concept of self, like a pure form of something.

She was so deliberate and consistent, her every gesture was a line from a moving poem.

It was contagious. I began noticing how much of what I did was through the eyes of someone else. I’d been so burdened by everyone else’s gaze. And what a weight, Anna.

One day she invited me to her place. It was superlative, a picture of symmetry and cleanliness. Not in the Zen way. It wasn’t the room of a yoga teacher, it was the room of a worn out army general. It was a footprint of war.

I said after moments of silence, “Shauna, I am torn. You’ll never let me love you. You’ll never let anything compromise your freedom. Where do we go from here?” I mentioned the unutterable. I regretted it immediately, but I had to.

She looked at me with that awful half-smile she wore whenever weakness was so bold to come out of my mouth. Like a mother carries when her child fears something of no great consequence. It was so tender that it made me nervous.

She wore my beads of sweat like necklace, Anna. Every moment of fear and shame and she looked great in everything.

She said finally, “ love is not the loss of freedom, it is the realization of it.”

She never answered my question.

It’s been a week since. Before all this I was lost in some illusion of time and money. I was a hollow man. Terribly hollow, Anna. I would get out of sleep in the morning and finally wake up in the evening when I was taking the train home from work. I felt unsettled in every moment of quiet reflection. None of it made sense to me, but freedom did, and only you would understand, Anna.Graphic 1 

I probably should have started the messages by letting you know what kind of place I was in. I was in the place we all pretend not to be in. It was the place with that one question.


Who’s loving me?

My battery is dying. I’ll have to continue this later. Miss you and Vancouver lots.


by @sledain

featuring photography from @_mayfleurs

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