I cannot preface this confession. Just let it be known: I was temporarily obsessed with doing Google searches of my boyfriend’s exgirlfriend. A blogger with pictures and a frequent contributor to digital rags, she has an online presence and, for a time longer than I care to admit, she had in me an anonymous, daily audience.
We were once face-to-face—the boy clumsily running interference—but I consider it an unrequited meeting because I had no idea who she was. Of course I noticed her, seated alone, close enough to the stage to be in his line of sight, but far enough back to be eyed only after the set was going good. A premeditated perch, indeed.
I registered that she was pretty and blonde. I duly noted that she was simply but smartly dressed. I gathered that she smelled really, really good, because the notes wafted off of her as she walked past me, out the door with him.
All these observations made by way of contrast, what with my big brown eyes hid behind big thick glasses; my luscious brown hair its usual tangled mess; my frumpy, pathetic dress–with an elastic waistband and ghastly leopard print–flaunting all the wrong curves on the eve of its being burned; and my scent of the night, jealous pheromones.
I will never get over the feeling of being dishonored that night, not because it seemed that I was unwanted but simply because I was at a disadvantage. Culling the World Wide Web for tidbits on one Valley girl was my meandering, pointless revenge.
If the queries were borne out of envy, they were sustained out of boredom. Occasionally I would hit my boyfriend with the results of my sleuthing, to point up an inconsistent statement from years before, or accuse him of being more carefree and adventurous in his past affairs, or to ask loaded questions to satiate my absurd hunt for sentiment, wondering about whether they shared the same taste in music, humor.
I was playing the game with myself though, because I love him and he loves me. And—how sweet this epiphany—he loves her still, in a way that he well should. Because he is gentle and kind and tender, because she is a girl, just like myself, and because none of our loves should be lost forever; we each deserve all the love we can get.
My greatest revelation, however, was that the Internet works in mysterious ways. The endless Boolean searching on keywords tagged to her likeness. The rudderless bouncing from hyperlink to hyperlink that scuttled further and further from Home. And then a hurdle over a period of inactivity: new results yielded by searching all iterations of her name.
It turned out that there was another young woman called by one of the same.
She was a graduate student in a difficult science program. She had a small frame, big smile, and beautiful golden locks. And she was far away. I had a desire to write to her, and thought about telling her exactly how she had become known to me. It seemed possible that a stranger might understand my lonely, misguided quest, and because her eyes were smiling, I thought she looked exceptionally bright and sympathetic.
I never did send her an email but I wish I had because one day my forlorn search returned the sad, perplexing information that this girl had passed away in a motorcycle accident. My heart sank to a place deeper than its breaking point.
I have not told my boyfriend about this profound weight, but I think he would understand. Not long ago we were standing in the kitchen listening to the news when a broadcaster recounted names, ages and hometowns of soldiers senselessly killed in the war. He announced the name of my boyfriend—the name of the bereaved, one and the same as the name of my love—and a greater sympathy I have never known.
When I sat down to write out this confession turned prayer, I could not remember exactly which names graced that girl’s life, so I looked them up, and the Internet told me something I had not found before: her middle name is my first.
It may be true that we know not what we do, but I have learned something about who we are. And this I believe: each and every one of us, the same, here to love and be loved.
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