As I sit in my hotel room in Brisbane on my last night here I reflect. And somehow it is not about this place. This trip was never about this city, or attractions to be found within. It was always about people. But in ways that are complicated. I suppose all relationships are complicated. You know how they say on Facebook “it’s complicated.”
But all jokes aside, I wonder about this stuff. The differentiation between “IRL” (in real life) and Internet friendships. I wonder about the ties that bond and the ties that disintegrate into nothingness.
In truth the impetus for the trip was a romantic entanglement whose thread was so thin as to disintegrate long before it was even time to board a plane. But I decided to board that plane anyway. I wanted to put on a brave face. I wanted to see other people too. I wanted… a lot of things, I suppose. I don’t know what I was looking for but I know what I found.
There are the – at times, quite disembodied – sense of online selves. There are living, breathing people presented “in the flesh.” And then there are the entirely abstract ideas of friends and friendships. I wonder why I feel like I can be myself with some people and not with others. I wonder why sometimes thoughts manifest themselves as vocal noises and other times as words to be written or typed. I wonder why some thoughts and feelings are expressed easily and others I suppress with considerable effort.
I was disappointed and disillusioned that the romance fizzled. I was angry. I kept telling myself, “it’s okay.” But it didn’t feel okay. I kept telling myself that you can’t control who you have feelings for and who you don’t. I kept telling myself it was completely unreasonable to expect anyone to commit to a long distance relationship. And actually I believe these things are true and valid. But I still don’t appreciate being ignored for extended period of times. I didn’t appreciate being treated like yet another casual acquaintance. But I was scared to express any of these things. I was scared that if I gave my rage an outlet I had no idea where it would take me. And besides I wanted to match the indifference I was getting. I wanted to pretend I was okay. My pride felt like the only consolation I had left so I was determined to put on a good performance.
But my role in this facade was foolish. Even more foolish than I felt about the whole relationship, about coming to this city for something that wasn’t real. And if there is any ‘take home’ from this whole experience it is probably that all such falsehoods are foolish. From the big emotional ‘stuff’ to just not being yourself, not speaking your mind, in much less grandiose circumstances. It extends to putting yourself in situations where you know you won’t feel comfortable. It includes going against your own values to avoid ‘making waves.’ It is about anything that mutes your truth – whatever that may be – that propels fictions ahead of personal realities.
It’s late and this feels lofty and airy-fairy. But it’s all I have. So I’ll honour it on that level.