Friday, January 23, 2009

getting there (part 11)

i am not the type of person who sits around waiting for rainbows. i am not an optimist. i am hopeful, but not optimistic. i have a hard time believing that just because you are a good person, good things will happen to you. i think at some point, forever ago, i did. i don't know how or when i came to lose that. but i did. i don't sit around waiting for rainbows.

i am not a religious person. i won't go into all the hypocrisies and fraud i see there. i just don't believe in god or praying or angels. but i do believe if i had a guardian angel, it would be robert.

it was sometime after hiv and before colette that it happened. i will forever be enslaved to social networking sites. i love them. i like having all these little windows into the lives of people you know and knew and barely knew way back when. how you can see the ways they see things. how you can see the minutia of their days. how you can see different shades of almost anyone. i love how they change the way we see people. the way we see each other. i, at some point, have been a member of all of them. eventually the older ones fall by the wayside, only to be remembered upon some random email. and that's how it happened. that's how this whole can of worms was opened. this whole, wonderful, life-changing can of worms.

most people don't know the real story about how exactly i found myself in asia. had i told most people the truth, they probably would have demanded i stay behind here. my mother would have had a coronary. so i skewered the facts. had i told people it was a complete stranger who i would be meeting in korea and traveling through southeast asia with, well, they just wouldn't have understood.

it was sometime after hiv and before colette that i got that random email. a gmail message from the long-forgotten friendster, letting me know i had a new message. i'm not even sure why i even checked it. i was at the end of my rope, not much mattered to me, and certainly correspondence from strangers on friendster did not. maybe it was after insomnia had begun and i was bored. maybe it was one of the lonely days. i don't know. but i checked it.

the message was from a guy named robert. he had found me on friendster, and then myspace, and liked my profiles. he, too, had lived in portland and new orleans; sometimes overlapping my own stays. i have been blogging since i was 19 years old. and, well, he found all the blogs, too. and he read them all. every one, every page. he read about the rape and the hiv and everything that came before. the heartbreak. the moves. new orleans. the momentous occasions in my life, that now somehow meant something to someone other than me. he said he was inspired. he said that he'd laughed and cried and had become attached to me and my writing. he said that i was someone worth knowing. and right then, in that moment, it was all i needed from anyone.

and with that came the proposition that made my jaw drop. he wanted to fly me out to korea, where he was teaching english. and from there, off to somewhere new. he said the worse case scenario would be i get a free trip with a guy i hate. and the best case, i make a lifelong friend and do something i'd never otherwise be able to. and for him? he gets to do something for someone he respects, who needs good news. it was insane. it was way too much. and there was no way in my right mind i was ever going. i couldn't do it, right? no way.

when my roommate at the time came home from work, i couldn't wait to tell her about the crazy guy who offered to fly me half way around the world. she sat down across from me as i told her about his email. she made a face that implied he was creepy crazy, and this was before i even mentioned the offer. and when i did, she became incredulous. she demanded i hand her the computer so she could see this lunatic for herself.

"i know him! i fucking know this guy!"
"from portland?" i asked.
"no! from philly!"
robert had mentioned that he used to live in philadelphia. my roomate had grown up there. and way back when they were friends. and had lost touch shortly after she arrived in portland, two years prior. she called him beautiful, insanely nice and one of the most fun people she'd ever met. she said i was stupid if i didn't accept the offer. and then she demanded his email address, so she could email him.

a few days later, we found out our next door neighbor's boyfriend was very good friends with him in portland, and that they still talked weekly. a few days after that, i found out two other good friends (in new orleans and sf) both knew him. and as my world got smaller and smaller, i became more and more sure that this was an opportunity i had to take. i don't think i even realized that my disposition had slowly changed from hopeless to excited. but suddenly i did realize that life was good, because now i had something look forward to. something to live for. and four months later when the tickets actually arrived, when the trip became tangeable, i found myself wondering how something so good could happen to me. wondering if maybe rainbows will come, if you wait long enough. if you wait out the storms.

during the insomnia, robert and i talked every night. when i was at my lowest, he was there. when i was excited for our trip, he was there. i had gone from alone and miserable to having this life savior, who was always there for me. everything changed, so quickly. so necessarily. he saved me; and i don't even think he knew it. i had something to look forward to.