“Don’t ever date anyone you can Google.”
Admittedly, that’s not helpful advice at all, seeing as how you can Google almost anyone in the world now, but alas for some reason I still tell people that. Like it was some wise lesson I’ve learned in my years of dating.
After Ben and I broke up – correction: when we officially broke off all ties, which was roughly six months after we broke up – he disappeared. He blocked me on Facebook, he stopped replying to my e-mails and if there’s a way of blocking my number from his cellphone (which I’m sure there is) he did it. Things didn’t end well, obviously, and at the time he was the last person I wanted to see. The sight of him literally made me break down in tears and at times drove me to a point of insanity I didn’t realize was reachable. But two and a half years later, I occasionally miss him. I miss his company. I miss his ability to tell what I was thinking and notice even so slightly when I was upset. I miss his nerdy puns and witty high-school humour. I miss his crooked face (it was endearing). I miss him.
As the time passed, I realized that Facebook was not going to provide me with any answers as to his whereabouts but for some reason I didn’t think he was Google-able. In my mind, Google was for the rich and the famous, the ones worthy of an internet presence. Surely that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie Googles Russian artist, and lover, Aleksandr Petrovsky taught me that only those who have notable careers (and publicly fascinating sex lives) can successfully appear in my Google searches. But alas, I also learned that I can be a columnist for a paper and still afford Manolo Blahniks. In other words, I was in complete denial.
I didn’t want to think I could Google Ben because if I did, I would do it all the time. My obsessive, compulsive nature leads to disturbingly good research skills – both an advantage for journalistic purposes but detrimental to my sanity. But of course, one night, I did it.
Ben’s full name is quite common so, at first, not much came up on my search. His work profile was more or less it. I stared at the link, thinking “This can’t possibly be good for me” but at the same time, I was over him. Missing him isn’t an inclination of leftover feelings I still had for him as much as it’s just my own lack of companionship (I haven’t officially dated anyone since Ben) and wanting to have a person there for you in times like this – 3am, sleep-deprived and blasting old Le Tigre songs, wanting someone to sing and dance with.
He turned me onto Flight of the Conchords when the series was still on air so we would often spend nights in bed, singing their songs back and forth or just trading jokes from the show. Our particular favourites were “Bret, You Got it Going On” (except we’d replace it with each other’s names) and laughing at the epileptic dogs episode.
As I clicked onto his page, I felt like a stalker. I was reduced to Googling someone I used to be able to call up on a daily basis. I shouldn’t have to resort to using an online search engine to find him. His page loaded and that crooked face appeared on my screen. Of course, I tear up. Clearly, my tear ducts are trained to react at the sight of him, still. But this time, I wasn’t crying because he broke my heart. I was crying because I was essentially staring at a stranger. The act of having to Google Ben, and subsequently viewing his work profile, felt unnatural. This was not the same guy I would sing “Ben, You Got it Going On” to. I continue to browse. Same geek talk, same clothing (okay, maybe tighter jeans), same everything – but this isn’t the guy I fell in love with. All this time has passed and my tear ducts aren’t reacting to the past, it’s reacting to the present. I know nothing about present-day Ben.
I often wonder what I would say to Ben, contemplating ways I’d strike up a conversation via e-mail or Twitter, if he had one. Hey, remember me? Hola, amigo! Whaddup, homefries? (Something tells me he’d appreciate any of those.) I think about putting effort into a well-composed message, extending my hand in friendship – a sane one this time – only to fear that he will look at it in disgust, trash the message and go on with his life, never thinking about me again. Which I’m convinced is the case.
Do guys even think about their exes? Is that only something girls do? If hanging out with overly sensitive, over-analytic boys recently has taught me anything it’s that they are pretty much the same as girls, if not worse. So I’d like to think that whenever Ben pulls out the dusty Casiotone on his shelf (so help me Jesus, he better have it still) or plays his Sebastian Grainger LP, he thinks of me. Even if it’s “Hot damn, I hate that bitch,” it’s at least something.
Many times, in the past two and a half years, I refer back to Ben as almost a ghostly figure – someone that I sometimes think of as a dream. His disappearance from my life has casted a cloudiness over my memories of him.
I regret the way things ended with him all the time, especially when I get into my Google fits. I didn’t do or say the right things and to think I acted the way I did still shocks me. In the message that I wish I could send to him today, I would add this. But that’s where reality strikes me.
There’s no point in regret. Yes, there are things you wish you could take back (including that Casiotone, which I demanded at the end of our friendship but he refused to comply). Yes, you always wish things could’ve gone better. But where does that lead me? Here, precisely – 3am, Googling a boy who I no longer talk to; who I no longer know. It is an hour into my Google-fest and what did I get from this? Nothing. I can sit here and write pretend-letters to him all night long if I wanted to but at the end of the day, literally, I am still sitting here and I am losing valuable sleep time.
It’s inevitable these feelings bubble up and surface once in a while. Regret is something you wish you could get rid of but you can never fully exempt from your life. So fine, Google. You can Google anyone. But if I am leaving you with a lesson, I will leave you will this: we will all date Google-able people but rather than looking them up in times of regret, ask yourself what’s the point in doing it. Focus on the present. I don’t believe in higher powers or anything but it makes sense that you ended up here, right now, without this person for a reason. Take a deep breath, remember that, (wipe the tears off your face) and move on. I’m sure there’s a good, scathing review on Pitchfork for you to spend your time stressing over.