Newsletter

Looking Back

Rated: G

He's missed a day now and again, so have I, but never so many. And never before had he missed three or more days without a message the next, to explain, and usually apologize. But still no answer to the messages I've left for him, asking for a reply, for two weeks now. I could understand if he was busy, but he always said he isn't, that he's bored, that there is nothing to do. And he could at least reply and leave me a short message like he used to, even if he was busy. But a week? And then another week?

That isn't even close to normal. The longest before I hadn't heard from him was maybe a week during holidays, when he was visiting relatives, and other such times. And he was always very careful to point it out in advance. Never before had he been gone over a week without a word or a reply. And now over two weeks, and not a single reply to my worried emails, almost begging he just reply with a simple "Hi, I'm fine, nothing going on, talk to you later."

We met almost two years ago at a gay story site. Not one of those flashy, noisy, pickup places, but a nice, quiet, often busy spot with a nice feel. We became pretty good friends. Or at least, we had tons of fun, with groups and alone. And we talked for all kinds of hours about anything and everything. Even those things you don't talk about to just anyone, we did with each other. And some things we'd never told anyone before.

Over the first few months, we became pretty close, I thought. By our sixth month of knowing each other, we were spending long hours watching shows or listening to music in voice chat, or just text chatting. Sometimes we got into something deep, or something painful, about one of us, and we always worked it through, even if it took days. We both helped each other in ways I never expected with someone online.

Almost two years later, we still spent just as much time with each other, sometimes even more, doing the usual, or nothing in particular. Now and again we would say that we would never stop being friends, and that we'd never ignore each other if we drifted apart. We both made it clear the worst thing one of us could do to the other was to ignore them or leave them as friends.

There was never any cybering between us. He was gorgeous, just my type, but I wasn't his, and I didn't kid myself. But we were such good friends, it seemed.

Just last month he had moved, and I knew of the area he had moved into; it was much busier and more urban than where he had lived before. He wasn't out in the sticks anymore, he was almost in downtown, and not one of the best parts.

Once he had moved, he said he wouldn't be able to be online quite as much. He said he was going to be busy, and his own computer wouldn't connect to the internet at his new place, and that getting out to use a public one meant he wouldn't be on as much. So when I started hearing less of him, there wasn't any concern.

The next weeks he said he was terribly busy, and getting out and about was almost impossible. He said he would be in touch as often as possible though. His fewer messages over the rest of that week were distant, short, as if he only had seconds to do it in. He didn't refer to any of the questions I'd ask, he'd only leave a short, one sentence message saying nothing was going on and he was fine, just bored as hell. Then his last message said he couldn't hear the sound on the machine he was using, because it was a public one, so he didn't bother with the link I sent to a hilarious video.

Now nothing, not even a single reply to my messages, for two long weeks.

We didn't have any common friends, so all I could do was check out the places he'd mentioned. We didn't have any common place but our own, not since I was kicked out of the place where we met. I had to at least make sure he was okay. He had talked about some other places around that he liked quite a few times, a few he even took me to, or pointed out. One though, one he talked about a lot, showed me his blog there, then his hometown friend's blog there, and even tried to get me to join it a couple of times.

It wasn't hard to find out the truth. He had posted at all the sites I could recall him mentioning. I saw him in his favorite place, sitting around with a few guys in the chat. I didn't want to bother him, but at least I knew he was okay. That didn't lessen the hurt though. I now knew he was online far more than he told me he was, once a day at least, and okay, but now I knew he wasn't replying to me at all. I messaged him, to say I was really worried, not hearing from him for so long.

The next day there was no message from him, again. The next day, I messaged him again, and I didn't mention that I had seen him online the last few days again, I just asked that he message and say hi. I checked through the day, no reply.

The same the next day. And I checked out the sites he said he liked again. And I saw him in the same places. Again the next day. And again the next.

Most of the times he'd be at the place he had mentioned the most to me, the one where he took me to show off his blog and his pictures he drew. He had posted to his blog three times, he had posted numerous times on the forums there, and elsewhere. He was at the other places as well, all the ones I could remember him mentioning. The entire week I saw him at his favorite places, chatting and obviously having fun. That was fine, he could go anywhere he wanted, whenever he wanted, he was an adult. He had his own life away from me.

But why was he ignoring me?

My heart felt so heavy. Probably the best friend I had on this machine had told me he couldn't get out much, so he wouldn't be online every day for a while. That was bad enough. Not hearing from him for weeks hurt more. But instead of that being the worst of it, he was on just as much or more often, he just didn't care to spend any of his time with me anymore. Or care enough to even reply to my messages.

I messaged him both days over the weekend. No reply. Again he was around, but I left him alone. Monday came, nothing. I did what he had asked me to do several times: I registered at the place. I didn't know what I wanted to say to him face to face anyway, and I didn't want to register with a name that would tell him it was me. I didn't want to jump into his place when he obviously didn't want to even reply to my messages.

I thought about just walking in, making a loud hello to him with an obvious name, and introduce myself as a long time friend of his who pointed me here a few times. To see his reaction. I almost smiled imagining it. No, I'd not be so forward. I'd just quietly enter without facing him at first. I'd maybe wait and see if he recognized me. That way I could ask what he wanted me to do.

Tuesday I drank beers, instead of my usual sodas. I needed something for the courage. I was going to go back to that favorite place of his, and if he was there, I was going to... to... I still didn't know. I was mad, but not really mad. I was hurt, but not really hurt. Not yet.

We had made this one promise, several times to each other. We both feared that one of us might not want to talk to the other some day. We both knew it could happen, that we could grow apart, but we promised that we wouldn't leave the other one in the dark, or hanging. We'd just say what bothers them about the other that they don't want to stay in touch any longer. Or something. But we promised never to disappear on the other, never to ignore the other, never to be mean or lie to the other.

I thought I'd mention that, and see what he says. Ask him if I should leave or if he would at least tell me what was going on. Maybe. Of course by the time I had drank a few beers to get the guts, and gotten there, I had made and unmade another dozen or so plans. I still didn't have one to go with. I knew I didn't want to walk in and wave at him, I couldn't.

My guts churned and my heart raced as I logged in and entered the chat room. He was there, along with only two or three others. They said hi to the new guy, and asked what brought me there. I said I wanted some advice. They said to go ahead and maybe they could help me out.

I said how I have this friend. He knows I care about him a lot, but we both know we aren't in love. We've never met, as he lives on another continent. We've known each other a couple years now, and about two weeks ago he stopped replying to messages, and just seemed to drop off the face of the earth. Then I asked what they thought I should do.

Their answers were pretty predictable. They said that he wasn't holding up his end of the friendship, that he wasn't a very good friend then. They said to leave another message, and if he doesn't care to contact you, then you didn't really have a very good friend. That it takes two to make a friendship, not one endlessly talking to himself.

My friend had asked a question about locations, and I knew he had figured me out by now. I kept hoping for a PM, asking if it was me. I was hoping for one, hoping he would say hi, that we would chat a bit, and he would promise to reply, or at least say that he would email me soon.

Nothing came. So after they had given their advice, and even my friend had now said that he wasn't a real friend then, I agreed, thanked them, and said goodbye. I used my friends name in doing so, making sure he knew he had just been talking to me, in case he had a doubt still.

The moderator asked if we had met before. Oh yes, we had met before. We had spent endless hours in chat and voice chat. We had watched a couple seasons of Skins, endless stand-up videos on YouTube, talked of the things from our past that were dark and painful. We had shared so much together, but now it seemed... I didn't know what it seemed. Yet.

I tried to send a PM to the moderator, telling him he could delete this account, that I certainly knew our common friend. That I hadn't heard anything from him for weeks now, after two years of pretty much daily emails at the very least. That I understood now that I was no longer welcome in his life, and I wouldn't be back, and I wouldn't be bothering him.

I was banned by the time I hit enter to send the PM.

I mentioned all of this to a common friend, who turned out to be an infrequent member at that site. He went there the next day to talk to the moderator who was in the chat at the time with me and my 'friend', both of whom he knew. The manager said that I was banned because my 'friend' had told them that he recognized me, and that I must have been following him to have found him there. My 'friend' had said that he had started shaking and was horrified that I had 'found' him there. My 'friend' had said that I had been following him for close to two years, and that he wanted no contact with me at all. He made it clear that I was not welcomed back there, and that my 'friend' had made it clear he wanted nothing to do with "the stalker guy". There was a threat of calling the police and pressing stalking charges.

My friend assured the manager that he was well aware of the long friendship the two of us had. He told him that he had even talked with the two of us at the same time in IM conversations over the last year, but had not seen my 'friend' outside this site for several months. He also told the manager that he himself had pointed me to this place more than once, and that he knew that my 'friend' had done so as well.

After all the time we had spent together: hours and hours a day, several times a week, month after month for almost two years, sharing hurts, our pasts, and both serious and good times. I thought I had made a lifelong, good friend. I would never have told him the things I had if I didn't. I would never have let myself feel so close to him.

I never thought he'd never tell some of the things about himself he did, unless he thought we were at least good friends too. He had obviously never told anyone many things he had talked about over the last couple of years with me. All the movies we had watched, all the laughs, all the shared secrets and troubles, and even the time we had spent just sitting around in silence, reading or listening to music. What was it all, then?

I had looked forward to watching his life move along. I couldn't wait for his first love, his first big fight, his first live-in lover. Maybe someday a permanent life long partner. I also hoped to someday meet, we both had said so several times. We wanted to finally meet in person, shake hands, and share some hugs. Both of us knew there would be no sex, or most likely not. And most especially if he had someone. But I looked forward to meeting him, and the one who held his heart.

But now, now I felt betrayed, discarded, crushed.

I sent an email to him, saying only that I knew what he said of me after I left that chat, and that I guess I finally knew the truth now.

A couple of days later, I sent several more in a rush, spelling out that I thought we had become such great friends. I reminded him of all the things we had shared with each other. All the times we had literally held each other together with our words and our friendship. I told him why I went to his favorite place, how I had been so worried, felt so betrayed. I reminded him of our multiple promises over the last two years to never do exactly what he had done.

I did finally get a message back from 'my friend'. His final reply said that he had never ignored me, that he had read all the messages I had sent. (?) He said he just didn't reply for over two weeks because he didn't have anything interesting to say. He said he didn't reply because his life was particularly boring in a very bland sort of way.

He said that he didn't like me anymore because he couldn't trust me now, after showing up at the chat. Then he said he wouldn't ever be talking to me again, and not to send any messages, as he would wouldn't read them.

He ended it by saying I had invented any friendship between us.

I can only look back, and wonder. Was it me? Was I wrong to think that because we had spent so many hours together, laughing, listening, helping, promising to stay in contact as the years go by, that we should have? Was I wrong to worry when he still hadn't replied after the longest period, by far, than ever before? Was I wrong to look around the places he talked about and showed me when I hadn't heard from him for over two weeks? Was I wrong to go into that chat in a random name and ask what he and his friends thought of someone you thought a true friend not replying to you for weeks on end?

I can only look back, and wonder.

Shorts - Looking Back