Not having a lot of friends is a hellacious thing when you’re going through a divorce. Don’t get me wrong, I had a couple and they were hugely supportive. But for whatever reason I found it really difficult to tell the details of my marriage to people who knew me, people who I’d have to look at and face all the time. At the time I was really embarrassed and I blamed myself for much of what happened. If I had only done this or if I had done that differently.
I had no interest in going out to bars and partying. I have no single friends to speak of and didn’t really know where to meet any. I met The Tour Guide during that time. We were both playing a silly little interactive game on facebook. You could chat and find out where people were from and what they did for a living, whether they were married or single, if they had children. During the course of playing the game I met quite a few people besides The Tour Guide that I hit it off with and we’ve become friends, though I’ve never laid eyes on them.
The Tour Guide and I started asking each other questions and having long, pointed discussions. He asked me one day, “Do you have faith?” And I didn’t hesitate to say, “Yes”, and proceed to tell him exactly what I had faith in. I honestly thought I’d never lay eyes on him since he lives in the UK. I came to a point where I began confiding things in him because I had no one else I felt comfortable turning to. This was sort of anonymous. I could get things off my chest and never have to deal with any awkwardness, he was three thousand five hundred miles away. He confided some things in me about a relationship he was hopeful about. And that was that, so I thought. We gave each other advice. Mostly him encouraging me to work things out with my husband, and me encouraging him that there was someone out there for him. We were iFriends. Nothing more, nothing less.
We talked about everything from faith to music to family. We ditched the silly little game and started chatting on Yahoo!Messenger. He hit a little glitch and went offline for about three weeks. When he did resurface he was a little cool and guarded. I wasn’t sure why but didn’t think much of it, really. We spoke infrequently for the next two or three weeks. During the time he was offline I had officially filed for divorce and was trying to sort that out. He had been divorced for about a year and a half and he was still sorting some things out with that and thinking about his future and what he wanted to do with it. Divorce does that. You have to rethink everything, and you’re starting over from scratch.
I changed my facebook profile picture from a picture of my husband and me to one of just me. I was beginning to emerge as an individual person. Suddenly The Tour Guide began warming back up. “Wow, I like your new profile picture! Who are you trying to impress?” “Awww, nobody in particular. I’ve got nobody to impress. I just thought it was time for a change.” Nothing much else was said for a few days. Just friendly chatter like we’d always done.
Then one day he asked me, “Would you ever consider exploring the possibility of a relationship with me?” I thought he was just kidding. “Paul Jones, are you hitting on me?” He replied, “How does it make you feel for a man to call you babe?” I said, “Depends on who it is. Sometimes it can be creepy, sometimes it can be condescending and sometimes it can be endearing.” He came back with, “How would it make you feel if I called you babe, babe?” He was as serious as a heart attack. He was asking me about a relationship. I wasn’t ready for anything heavy. I wasn’t even sure I was ready to go out on a date. I thought, “From thirty-five hundred miles away, what would be the big deal? This’ll fizzle out in a month’s time.” “Sure”, I said. “Why not?”