We meet in the dark of the night, huddled over our phones, in bed, behind closed doors. We meet on the internet.
We also meet in the light of morning, with the spread of breakfast before us, with the day’s first beams streaming in.
We know who we are talking to. I know the shape of his body, his face, his hands. He knows when I’m happy and knows when I’m not in the mood. I learn to say “good morning” before breakfast, when we meet online after meeting in the dreamworld.
I learn about his country, his ex-wife, his tendency to be indirect. He knows how to contact me, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on WhatsApp, on Viber, and more. I learn to say, “Good night.”
We are everywhere, together.
Sometimes, I think, maybe I just made it up, but it was true. I knew in my heart of hearts everything that ever happened between us was made up of the real and unreal, but it was still true. You know that gut feeling you get when someone you love is near? It feels real, doesn’t it? And when your feelings are confirmed, you know that you’ve always known all along.
He would message saying he’s glad I am eating, at the exact moment of me eating a meal; that he knew exactly where I was; that he knew where I was at every moment, and who I was with. He’s a man made up of different voices. It’s similar in poetry — some poets have a distinct voice, some poets try to hide that voice yet their personalities still come out. Words are reliable, in that way, and what is the internet but a vehicle made out of words?
I know, because his many voices are full, direct statements. A command even when it’s a question.
I have loved a shadow but that shadow ruled over me. He was always the dominant one, back then, and I submitted; I consented to the game we played.
But then came the times when I lost the shadow of myself to the shadow of who I loved. And we both knew it.
In the early years, living with a man in a mask was tough. I would agonize over the cyberspace exchanges and obsess over who was hacking my phone. I was extremely interested in hackers and how they do what they do. Needless to say, I got extremely paranoid. Had I done something wrong? Were these conversations safe? Does he love me less because he does this to me?
I understand, now, his reasons, after nearly half a decade of conversations. I understand that I have my reasons too, for continuing to undergo this, which sometimes feels like a limitation, but more often than not, an exciting love affair. A love conducted through a secret rendezvous online.
Is it, or am I, or is he, less real? I think not.
Now, I have adjusted to this crazy debacle. My time is my time, and I choose to spend it the way I want to. I talk to who I want. And I want to talk to him. I am still that young girl in a yellow sundress looking for the right room in a strange new school, but I have just grown a little bit older.
I know love comes with understanding, and I believe there is an understanding between us. Even the dominant and submissive parts of us understand that it is a performance, a play that we could not act out in real life.
He has softened, through the years, adjusted to our random conversations, adjusted to my anger and my joy. He’s direct, these days, telling me what he wants and doesn’t want, as if he has just figured it out himself. Meanwhile, we have adjusted to each other’s various tones, to our silences when we’re angry, to the guilty facts between us.
And yes, of course, I understand, it’s not for some people. These type of mysteries, be they closed or open secrets, will always have its critics — its naysayers, its public investigative fingers on a very private thing. But while it’s still private, let me please cherish it. Let me relish it, please.
Perhaps I will never be able to write about it fully. But writing helps unravel the shadows, so that what looks like a dark image might actually be a colorful one — under the right filter, of course. When I write about this in my poetry, I hide behind metaphors. They comfort, similar to our good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and good night exchanges.
Metaphors have always been my crutch at explaining a hyperreal situation. But I have chosen to write about this now, because I want to say it in the plainest of words, to express how real the internet life can be, and about the love that takes place there.
That’s where we as humans now meet, in metaphors online, because that’s where we’re most comfortable. It’s a place we never tire of going to. You may meet the love of your life, or simply one of your lovers, on the net.
But it doesn’t make it any less real.
Angela Gabrielle Fabunan is a poet, essayist and editor. Her poetry collection, “The Sea That Beckoned”, was published by the England-based Platypus Press. Her works have appeared in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Manileño Magazine, and Inklette Magazine for which she is poetry editor. She won a Palanca Award for her poems “Homecoming Collection” in 2016, and is taking up her masters in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines.
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Posted by INQUIRER.net on Wednesday, February 13, 2019
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