Dearest Rachel –
These days, Ruby will occasionally ask me whether I’ve spoken to another woman, especially if I don’t contact – or respond to – her on Google Chat quickly enough. Maybe she’s worried that she’ll lose me to someone else too early in the game, in which case I suppose I should be flattered. But it doesn’t really work for me; I find her concern misplaced, excessive and mildly controlling.
It’s not like either of us has a right to exclusivity on the other at this point in our supposed relationship. We haven’t even so much as met, although she’s reached out to me by phone once, so I’ve actually heard her (rather thickly-accented) voice. Otherwise, I don’t really know her, and, given my experience with others on the site, I’m still quite wary. Even the photos she sends could very well be faked, although they’ve been reasonably consistent. So the fact that she seems to think that I belong to her is more than a little annoying.
Admittedly, she doesn’t have as much to fear as she thinks she does, particularly since it seems to be specifically in relation to the dating site (which, I’ll have to admit, has been offering diminishing returns the longer I stay out there. But stay out there I shall – I’ve paid for my listed time, and I intend to get my money’s worth). I actually came out and asked her if she had a problem with me going out with Ellen for lunch – and all of the girls for dinner – over the past week. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to. Which is weird, considering that they’re much closer to me than anybody I might meet online; geographically, socially and, for the most part, spiritually.
Of course, you never had any fears of me growing too close to any of your friends. And why should you? They were your friends, after all; you brought them into the relationship web, not me. And, of course, I already had you; what was there for me to look for?
But this has been the situation in our relationship ever since we knew each other. Back in college, you weren’t even interested in me as a romantic partner, so the fact that I was dating others didn’t concern you. Later on, after I sent you that letter that somehow awakened your interest, and eventually led to our engagement, you weren’t phased by the fact that I was still ‘going out’ with Krista, and taking her out to eat and to see this or that movie.
You seemed to take it on faith (and on my word) that it was just friends doing things together while you were still studying in college, and thus unavailable. I don’t know if you ever confirmed anything with Krista; to the best of my knowledge, she never claimed to have spoken to you about it. But it was true that nothing ever happened, apart from some fairly long discussions in her family’s parlor about the various movies that we’d seen – one of my last classes at college had been on drama, and what makes one good or bad, while Krista had majored in the subject, and was thus an expert, relatively speaking, in the field, so those discussions could get involved.
Meanwhile, down at school, you were doing things and going places without me as well. Not that anything involved boys, necessarily, but you were getting a lot done independent of me – although you were struggling a bit in some of your classes. I recall you telling me about trying to negotiate a ‘C’ out of one of your last classes, that was juuust dancing that line between it and a ‘D,’ so that you could officially graduate in time for us to actually get married when we’d scheduled ourselves to do so. But you’d also had the chance to travel, and you got to see places that I have yet to see; not that I would see them with the same eyes that you did at the time (and without your stories, I won’t be able to relate to them even if I do find everything that you went to).
In short, to quote Kahlil Gibran, we had ‘spaces in our togetherness.’ We weren’t fastened to each other, not even at the beginning. We were our own people, doing our own things, with our own circles. Eventually, of course, I brought you into mine, at which point you found other people I would’ve never known about nor sought out. They became part of ‘our’ circle, rather than ‘yours’ or ‘mine,’ as we grew closer together.
We were never quite fused at the hip, nor were we ever to the point where we understood each other perfectly. I hear tell of married couples that get to the point where they can finish each other’s sentences almost every time; that never happened with us. Indeed, sometimes I’m worried that, in all these letters to you, I’m distorting this image of who you were based on what I saw, and how I interpreted it, rather than what was actually you. But it’s all the perspective I have; I don’t even have a sibling of yours to correct me at this point, let alone your parents’ perspective. All I have at this point, for the most part, are people who were far more distant from you than I was, so what could they add to the narrative? Perhaps I need to talk to Ellen a bit more, though.
The dynamic has changed at this point, though. You had no fear that I would grow too close to your friends, because I was already so close to you that something like that wasn’t even a possibility worth worrying about. Perhaps Ruby’s insecurity stems from the fact that she’s well aware that she doesn’t come from such an advantageous position, and what with the sense of ‘running out of time’ to find somebody for the rest of her life, she’s trying to latch on hard. It renders her actions (or at least, her words) somewhat understandable, if not particularly welcome. And it’s not like she’s been the only one asking me to delete my account once we’ve started chatting together, but that doesn’t justify it in my mind. If you had no fear of me straying back when I was still in what was more or less ‘my prime’ (feel free to laugh about that, by the way), why is she getting so worked up about an old guy like me continuing to look around? For all she knows, I might not be right for her (and of course, she might not be right for me). Why immediately throw all your chips on one horse like this? I don’t get it.
In the meantime, honey, wish me luck. It seems I’m going to need it.