dearest billy,
the month of february always reminds me of you, because that is when we first met-- if you can even call it meeting. we were, after all, in a chatroom.

it was 1995; i was a sophomore in college. i'd just begun using the internet in the media center where i worked. i'd heard stories about meeting people online, and, while it still had a reputation for being risquŽ, i was very intrigued. so i did an alta vista search on chatrooms and entered the first one i saw. that's where i found you.

or did you find me? i can't remember who said "hi" first. all i remember is how sweet you were. you made me giggle with your goofiness and wooed me with text hugs and kisses. a few days later it was valentine's day. you sent me a @}--/--- (rose). i was smitten.

because of the time difference, we hardly were online at the same time, so what ensued instead were e-mail conversations. daily e-mails. hourly e-mails. long, heartfelt, soulbearing e-mails. we sent hand-written letters and little gifts to each other. we even talked on the phone a couple times. but we never met in person. i never even saw your face.

after nearly a year, our e-mails were fewer and further between. we both got busy with life.

the next valentine's day you sent me six long-stemmed roses. we weren't even talking anymore, so it was a complete surprise, one that had me flustered beyond belief. your only intention was to make me smile. when i told my parents who they were from, they naturally freaked out. my mom thought you were going to chop me up in a million pieces. i reassured her you were innocent, and you were.

toward the end of our correspondence, we admitted how crazy it all was. we realized we weren't even infatuated with each other; we were infatuated with who we thought the other was, who we wanted the other to be. we were madly in love with the words and emotions and ideas that were exchanged, but not each other. we didn't really know each other.

but, still, i think of you in february. i think of you when i see long-stemmed roses. and i think of you each time i log on to my ISP. your chatroom nickname is my password. i figure it's only appropriate.


Thursday, February 24, 2000


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