I searched for you on Facebook yesterday. It was almost 2am, and I don’t even know why the thought occurred to me to try, except for maybe that I caught that movie on TV last week starring that beautiful-yet-smarmy actor that looks so much like you, and maybe acts like you as well. Or did, at least. It’s been ten years now, after all.
I typed your name in the search box and, to my surprise, there you were. Everything was hidden on your profile except for your photo (your still-oh-so-gorgeous photo), so I tried to concoct an explanation in my head for sending such an out-of-the-blue friend request. Oh, funny story, I’d say, I was flipping channels and saw this movie. Has anyone ever told you that you look like…
You were the type of boy I hope my daughter never wants to date, but when she inevitably does, I’ll intuitively understand. A misfit, with a deliciously pretentious vocabulary and a hatred for all things and people, who’d read actual books that weren’t required school reading and who had opinions that were short-sighted and immature, but that sounded good to a teenaged girl who didn’t yet know any better. And you were good looking, ridiculously so, yet your bad attitude kept you from using it to climb the social ladder (and besides, you insisted that you hated popularity). To me, the smart girl with perfect grades who thought she knew everything, you were hard to resist. Why settle for a nice, average boy who would treat me decently when I could aim higher and be with the guy who’d make me work for it, who’d make me feel like I’d accomplished something by being with someone who thought I didn’t deserve him?
As I hovered over the ‘Add Friend’ button, I wondered what you’d think when you saw my request. I still look the same, mostly, just a little bit older with nicer clothes and better hair. You’d see that I went to a good college and turn your nose up. You’d notice that I’m married – that I was one of those girls who got married at an age where it’s still perfectly acceptable to live in a tiny apartment with no money, going out drinking on a weeknight and heading into work the next morning with a mean hangover – and that I have kids now. Twins, a boy and a girl. Of course. Eyeroll.
You’d think I was still the girl in high school who needed to be the best at everything. The one who never broke the rules. The one who goes to a good school and marries a nice man and has beautiful children and a perfect life in the suburbs. I’d want to tell you how that’s not how it really is, that I know pain now, that I’ve had the shit kicked out of me by life. That I am afraid of my own darkness a lot of the time and I’m jealous of the people with the glossy, perfect lives. That, for the record, I fucking hated that expensive college.
Instead, I scroll through the photos on my page and delete the ones where I think I look fat.
I press the button to “friend” you quickly, before I can change my mind, telling myself we are adults now, and that reconnecting with old friends is what Facebook is for. Maybe we’ll meet up, I wonder. Maybe we’ll have a perfectly lovely coffee date somewhere, and we’ll talk about our lives and those days back in school, and I’ll leave and maybe you’ll wonder what would have happened if we’d followed through with all the flirting we knew at the time would lead us nowhere. Or at least I’d hope you would.
A screen pops up then, with names of all the other people I’ve befriended before you. You don’t seem to have any friends yet, would I like to suggest some? My heart sinks a little more than it should as I realize that this probably means you don’t actually use this page, that the lack of information is less about having strict privacy settings and more about you just not having anything at all.
But then, I think, of course you don’t. It wouldn’t make sense to see you sharing vacation photos and cute kitten videos from YouTube. You wouldn’t care about things like that.