I was 18 years old and I had never been in love. I had a new crush every two months (mostly straight dudes) and felt lonely. At night I would lie awake in bed and listen to Death Cab For Cutie, wondering to myself, ‘When will it be my turn?!! When will I find the big L?!!”
I was too insecure to go to gay bars (‘They’re full of desperate old guys wanting to score with some skanky twink. I’M NOT THAT KINDA GUY’) and meeting up with local people from the internet gave me anxiety attacks.
At the time I was a member on a message board about a popular artist from the 90’s. It was a volatile place which boasted itself on having no rules. Vicious personal attacks happened every day, so I mostly lurked and posted now and then, afraid that someone would say something mean and hurt my already fragile confidence.
Cue Roy. He was cute, English and said nice things to me. Basically, he was the man I had been waiting for all my life. After a few flirty posts back and forth we started conversating in pm’s. Email, Myspace and Facebook followed shortly after. It was June and all of my friends had exams. I didn’t have any. Spending my days on the internet talking to a 27-year old Englishman was all I needed to help get me by. He was unemployed (‘He just got fired. How unfair!’), recently dumped (‘His ex-boyfriend left him without a note or anything. How sad!’) and looking for a home (‘His mother wants him out of her house. How rude!’). Obviously, there were so many reasons to fall in love with him.
We flooded the message board with personal flirty messages that redefined the word corny. We called each other husband, and wrote big public posts of longing and missing. After two weeks we had enough of the distance (Death Cab’s Transatlanticism was our theme song.) and decided to meet up. Since he lived in England and I lived in Belgium we figured the most romantic thing we could do was to meet up on a campground in Calais. We would sleep in a tent and take long walks on the beach. We would make out and be able to call each other husband for real. It would be the best 4 days of our lives.
When my parents found out about our plan they were worried (‘You’re going to get raped by a 60-year old!’). My friends on the other hand were excited (‘This will be your personal Brokeback Mountain!’, to which I replied, ‘I’M NOT THAT KINDA GUY!’). I was mostly nervous and scared. Scared that I had thrown myself into a marriage I couldn’t consume (I was still a virgin, y’all!) and scared that he would be uglier than his Facebook profile picture made him out to be (‘I hope you’ll like me in person. I’ve gained some weight during the holidays,’ he warned me).
So came the 22nd of June and with shaky legs I stepped on a train that would take me to the (internet) love of my life. I felt like my life was a movie and I desperately hoped that this would be my happy ending. Of course I was wrong. (DUM-DUM-DUUUUUUUUUUUM.)