I arrived back in London two days ago, I floated in on the kind of cold that blisters the skin and raises the bones to the surface. Usually, I’d make a point of reflecting on the trip— the parts of it that frustrated me, like catching belt loops on door handles. But there’s no real need, I had a very pleasant time. I have a handmade mug from Bansko, Bulgaria to show for it, and my friend’s sweet tooth. There are few race stories to tell, as is the case when differences end in infatuation, and not dismay. My friend and I are in a photo on somebody’s Facebook page, arm to arm with some 6ft, red faced man who manned one skiing conveyor belt; we might even be his profile picture as you and I speak. We’re in a few camera rolls, in some very unwilling, stolen images. I’ve been to Europe more than twice, so making a point of a foreseeable chapter in the story (the infatuation of the locals) is a nonsense. I’ll only say I did not come back exhausted, but nourished from the solid, easy company of someone I should probably be spending more time with. But I do have something not completely unrelated to say.
While at one of the hotel dinners of pale meats, soft chips and odd tasting little cakes, I saw something online that goaded me into the comment section, which I only do when my opinion of whatever is instantaneous. I search for my opinion to be expressed word for word, so that I can use the reaffirmation to move on with a clean break. But nobody said what I was feeling exactly.
The something online was the posting of a handwritten letter, slipped under a person’s door, alongside the caption that introduced it. The letter was from somebody who lived in the same building as the sharer. The two had gone on a successful date, had agreed on a second, when the tweeter entered a busy period that prevented them from consistently responding to texts. The sender of the letter, in despair, sent a handwritten note reiterating his interest, and asking for some reassurance that he had not in fact been ghosted. The caption of the photographed letter cannot be retold word for word, because the tweet has since been deleted. It did say something to the affect of:
“Come look at what somebody slipped underneath my door,” followed with, “this is the text I sent back rebutting my interest, and relaying my inability to offer constant reassurance to a dating partner.”
The story, along with the assisting commentary was all fairly inconsequential, with the usual inability to claw beneath. Originally, my opinion aligned with the general discussion—whether the note belonged online (it did not), whether the sender of the handwritten note was overstepping, was needy, was creepy (yes, needy, but far more normal than many of the commentators wanted to allow). I went over this with my friend while walking back from dinner, we agreed it was a bit much, but did not require a public flogging. Then I found myself thinking about it long after its importance had died into nothing. It was because, as aforementioned, nobody said what I realised I thought. Nobody commented on the internet instinct to prove our lives as interesting.
The handwritten note brought me back to a time I know little about— dating before social media, dating before phones. In that world, the author of the note would go unnoticed within the ever-turning, very ordinary sphere of penmanship and widely expected love letters. That internet letter would be a follow up to a former unanswered letter, bland correspondence. But the old school of emotion-led, penned notes in a world where communication is sandy and flippant causes mass disturbance, sparks intrigue. And if your ‘aura’ leads a person to send a handwritten anything, well, you must be very interesting indeed.
The tweet was deleted, because it did not have the intended impact. The person who shared the note was not sought after, mesmerizing, powerful, interesting; the consensus was that they were only insensitive, boring, underserving and unthinking. Some people did not like the sense of entitlement that could be gleaned from the note, nor the desperation. ‘You dodged a bullet’, is what I saw commented more than once. But most did not like that the tweeter was trying to shame a person over a fairly meaningless offence. What made my eyes roll was the attempt to use the author of the note’s insecurity to appear as a shiny, new penny of a person.
When out of the ordinary things happen to us, completely gone is the instinct to privately enjoy it, or to issue it out amongst friends. I’m fairly young, so perhaps the discretion was never truly there. Before the internet, it perhaps manifested itself in a different, yet just as brash way. It’s just another form of disingenuousness that gets behind the eyes. But I suppose it’s better than lying.