The Evolution of a Rock Star Dream - An Online Love Story
I'm going to give away the punchline: I fell in love with a fairly well-known musician after developing an online relationship with him. Best to just blurt it out now and spare myself the embarrassment of having to admit it later on. His name is [fill in the blank] from this point on. (You may not have heard of him anyway, so who cares—a rock star to me.)
When in New York, I added him as a MySpace friend (back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed the land). And much to my surprise, he wrote me back a personal message. I asked him if he was an imposter, like some bespeckled music geek with acne hiding out in his parent's basement, playing the part of a well-known musician.
His response? "I've been playing the role of [fill in the blank] since 1965." The year he was born. That’s when I knew it was him. Wow…he emailed me? Joked with me? I was red-faced and teeming with girlish glee.
We communicated sporadically at first, but over the years, the frequency intensified. At one point, we moved over to instant messaging. His little face would suddenly pop up on my screen, out of the blue. Wow. He's kind of in my bedroom now! And then we would weave this intimate and magical virtual world online.
Hours would go by, exchanging songs, jokes, links, stories, photos, struggles, heartfelt compliments, sarcastic zingers and little flirtations. Sometimes we'd type the same thought at once. Or send the same song to one another. It all seemed so perfectly uncanny. Is this my soul mate, if there is such a thing? Please let there be such a thing.
One night, after rapid-fire typing back and forth and wine, (he drank vodka straight. He had been recently diagnosed bipolar and tended toward excess), he suggested calling me to give my hands a break. On my actual phone!? Mother of god, this is getting real.
When the phone rang, I felt so small suddenly. Why is this amazing man interested in this little nobody wearing a coffee-stained robe at the Jersey shore? Okay, I don’t really feel like a nobody; it’s just when a dream of yours unfurls in front of you, its intimidating. It’s beautiful but it almost hurts. Am I worthy of my own dream?
Yes, I am. Indeed I am. So I answered the phone.
And I heard his sweet voice for the first time. We talked and laughed as if we'd known each other for a thousand years. Oh my god, he even sang to me that night! He played his guitar and sang one of his songs to me. Over the phone! And I sang with him, nervous and elated. Sing with him, Beth. Do it!
Phone sex erupted in the middle of our 4-hour long conversation (shocker, right?). He led the way, quick and wildly creative, he proceeded to spin these steamy stories, as if he knew all of my private hotspots and kinks.
He tucked me in that night, even though thousands of miles away. He told me to get under my covers. He whispered in my ear for some time and then said good-night at the very moment I drifted off. I hung up the phone and floated up to the heavens.
I dreamt of us living in a glass house on the beach in California. He'd play his music for me or ask me to sing a section of a song so he could work out a glitch. We'd be very musical and muse-like to one another. And we’d fuck a lot, in a deep and complicated way that made us believe in something holy.
When I woke up, he sent me an email with the news I secretly suspected: married. Though the "kids" were a surprise. Wasn't expecting that. Young kids. Fuck. How could you?
[Fill in the blank] apologized profusely and explained to me their situation: how he and his wife haven't slept in the same bed for years, he lives in an in-law on their property now. They stay together for the kids (oh that classic). Lots of animosity between them and blah-fucking-blah.
Shattered, I told him to leave me alone for a while--or fucking permanently--whatever sticks. Just get out of my life.
Torturous weeks went by and he either contacted me or I contacted him. "I miss you desperately" was the theme. And our strange, other-worldly relationship resumed without missing a beat. We jumped back in like two lovelorn idiots.
His bipolar disorder became more pronounced—or perhaps I just got to know him better. He was deeply struggling. But hell, so was I. Alone, broke both mentally and financially, in an old run-down family house on a desolate island. In New Jersey to boot!
He went on meds. And he became my medication, my “happy pill” for the disease of loneliness. But his moods changed quickly and radically. I'd hear from him consistently, then nothing. Nothing. Then he'd flood back in torrents, all over me. Until he was gone again.
A quick aside on abandonment issues: when you have them and your romantic interest suddenly appear and disappear, you're in an excruciating state of pins and needles. Anxious and preoccupied all the time, you can't focus or work optimally, you can't even take a deep breath.
So I let his departures wreak havoc in my life because our times together were transcendent and blissful. A trade-off many of us often make.
Did we ever make plans to meet? We talked about it during our exchanges. Hotel rooms. Him, waiting for me in a hotel room. What he would do to me. What I’d be made to do to him. And how shopping and dining would be involved before or after. (A multi-layered fantasy, which I liked. Because we didn’t just want to have sex; we wanted to do things together.)
But did he ever really plan on meeting me? No, probably not. That's hard to admit. And perhaps I secretly knew that…but that silly dreamer in me believed that our love would prevail and lead us together. Dumb, dumb.
Would we be attracted one another if we met? Maybe it would be completely disillusioning if we broke that fourth e-wall. Maybe he would be a 4-foot boil-covered troll of a man. Or we just wouldn't have that "thing" that two people need between one another, regardless of looks.
But after years of our strange and wondrous intimacy, I worried less and less about that. We were already deeply attracted to one another on a level few could understand, including ourselves.
I loved (did I? Could I?) an introverted, troubled and blazingly creative man I never met who sang and played in a popular band in the 90's. And I believe he loved me too (did he?). A strange ether-like love. One that couldn't last unless we met, which wasn't going to happen.
I began to hear from him less and less. Then not at all. My self-esteem plummeted and I found it harder to reach out, for fear he wouldn't respond, which would send me spiraling for days.
He also made sure he covered his ass. I had no phone number or address, just his email. When someone left vaguely threatening comments on a blog of mine, I emailed him immediately. We had already drifted apart, but the comments mentioned him specifically. I felt frightened and confused.
At first I thought it was his wife, which was surprising, because she didn't seem very involved in his life or seem to care that much about him overall. Then I thought it was some hateful side of him during a manic episode. I'll never really know though I guess the latter, but those scary words have been locked in a metal box inside my brain ever since.
After several weeks, he emailed me back and claimed no knowledge of the comments. And that he had found God. He was deeply sorry for what he put me through. He lives with the guilt and the pain and etc, etc, etc. But thanks to Him (oh yes, a capital "H"), he is back on his path.
The hypocrisy incensed me. Because while he was busy finding God with a capital H, I was recovering from the damage of his decidedly un-Christian-like behavior. It just all seemed so tidy and convenient. God in a box, LA style. He probably wasn’t well known enough for the local Scientology chapter.
Eh, I'm being sarcastic and mean. Neither of us killed ourselves--a definite perk during our time together. And trust me, we were often within spitting distance. Let him have his God. Let me have the goddess (with a small “g”) he made feel like. All is forgiven. (It kinda has to be, right?)
He was my biggest fan during that crazy phase, heaping praise and respect my way. I wrote like crazy during our time together (because I knew he’d see it) and more people began to see my work as a result. This amazing musician was my muse. And I was the star of the star's eye, the princess at the ball finally…even though my prince was troubled, married and…not there.
I miss him and I fear I always will. When someone parts ways with you so poorly, the recovery time can be rocky and protracted. When you never had the chance to meet that person, it’s as if they never really existed, making the grief that much more complicated and hard to sort out.
I did my best to digest the loss by sending him emails (since it was the only way to reach him), expressing my pain, my longing for him, or a bad joke I found online. I knew he wouldn't respond, but I did it for myself, to purge and move on.
Eventually my need to contact him lessened to once in a blue moon. And then, I'd simply keep him posted on my life or send him a song he might like. He had become a distant pen pal and I was dating others, slowly getting back to real life again.
Then an email I sent him was returned: his had shut down his account. His exit plan was complete. A large immovable door had been shut. This was final kick to the gut.
Now your email account? How could you shut me out so resoundingly? This is how its going to end after years of communication? No phone call, card or, god forbid, a bouquet of apology flowers? I am a human, afterall. A human."
That’s all right. I didn’t need a stinkin’ computer or cell phone to contact him. I just raise my frequency and use the airwaves of the universe to send my message, anytime and anywhere. And he feels it, I make sure. It's not black magic or the like, just some spiritual balancing.
Sometimes I fantasize about bumping into [fill in the blankety-blank] in some random hotel lobby in New York. I'd spot him and speak his name plainly. He'd turn around slowly. And I'd see his face for the first time.
Ha...what would we do? Maybe we’d cry. And hug. Then I'd slap him hard across the face and he'd be stunned and then laugh at my brazenness. Then I would punch him in the gut. This wouldn't be so funny. He'd have to sit down after that one. And I wouldn't apologize. I'd wait until he caught his breath, then I’d....
No, I could never hurt him. No matter how much he hurt me or denied me the chance of respectful closure or a physical meeting, I'd never do anything to harm him.
I wish he had the same kind regard for me. In the long run, he was a bit of a narcissistic, entitled LA-style jerk who kinda used me, right? But it's not that simple. Never is. He remains one of the best things that ever happened to me and the most amazing men I've never met.
Besides let’s look at my part: I chose to avoid the obvious red flags and plowed full steam ahead. I knew what I was in for yet still bought into some sandcastle version of us that simply didn’t exist.
It's taken me a while to move past him and I still have my heart-stabbing moments. Though most of the time, he's just a pale ghost drifting around my heart, bumping into things occasionally.
And I’m sure he has fully convinced himself that its best not to contact me. You know, save me from any additional heartache. Well, that’s not the best for me. At all. But I’ve witnessed others rationalize in this passive manner, so its not surprising he’d take that road.
By now, The Book of Life says I'm supposed to move on and "let it go, man." Yet I still struggle with the fact that we’ll probably never meet. That I may go to my grave never seeing him in person, let alone having anything more significant with him, like say, a relationship (silly, silly girl). I bought into a lie and I paid a price.
And I'd probably do it again. Because it was the most beautiful mistake.