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I’ve been in an online relationship for years, but I’ve met someone else. Do I give up my real relationship for something real?
For the last three years and five months, I have been in a fulfilling relationship. We met on a palm-tree lined beach. She said her name was Celeste, but I already knew it was Hannah. That night we spoke to the cusp of daylight hours and we shared her bungalow.
While I know her, I’ve never met her.
For the uninformed, our relationship is kept (although I dislike the term) in “virtual” reality. (Editors note: The program is called ‘Second Life’)
I can spot her in a crowd, and I can find her in the dark. She’s there when I need her, and vice-versa. Against the backdrop of exotic rendezvous, we’ve talked out and accepted the damage we’ve both experienced. A complete lack of pretence is the norm, or, as she puts it “Don’t bullshit me”.
But, truth be told, I’ve met someone else.
I met her at a bus stop. She asked me where she could refill her Opal Card. She thanked me via a touch on my forearm, her name is Sarah.
We’ve been on two dates, and I know nothing about her. I can’t predict her response, and I’m unsure how to handle situations, so I’m dealing with things the way I’m comfortable, you know, in ways that have worked for the last couple of years: gentlemanly manners, old jokes, constant responses to the conversation. But, it doesn’t seem to work.
I know nothing about her life, beyond the constant retelling of her experiences. She suffers terribly at the hands of Same Story Syndrome. She worked in a brothel. As a secretary. For three days. She over communicates, unless she has something to say. If that’s the case, she sits mute, and I have to figure it out. So I wallpaper the empty spaces with my inane guesses. It’s difficult, and I dislike small talk, but I know this is the stage we’re at. We’re caught in a vicious catch-22 cycle.
Through Celeste, I know that the world as a much larger place. She’s wonderful at unpacking philosophy, the meaning of art, and 1960’s Television trivia. We’ve discussed much. The topic is unimportant, but the discussion is. C’s favourite phrase (from her favourite movie) is “Artists tell lies to tell the truth” Conversely, Sarah’s favourite phrase (at the moment) is “They’re liable to be punched in the head”.
To steal a line from a book, Sarah is another country I know nothing about. She’s the combined negative aspect of everyone’s psyche. She has the ability to make a bad situation worse. But there’s something about her I can’t place. She makes no apology for who she is, and she seems to care about people no-one gives a fuck about.
The best summation I can give her is that she’s impossibly average. Well, not average. Normal. She’s there, and that’s all she is. Which is enough, and also not enough.
The grand romantic moments are lacking, I pine for the days spent with Celeste: skiing, yachting, horseback riding. I’m used to a relationship being a series of moments. The only moment Sarah and I have shared was a man butchering ‘Strangers in the Night’ via a portable speaker. A shared grin was all we had. No laughter, no dancing, no references to it since.
I’ve not told Celeste any of this, as I’m not sure what to say. I don’t know if there’s anything to say. There’s a question I need help answering.
There’s a question I need help answering:
Do I give up something real for something that might be fake?