Crashing and Burning

Dearest Rachel –

It’s the craziest thing, sometimes. The stories I hear from people online can be so impressive, until you look them up. And do they think I’m not going to?

I’ve been chatting quite a bit today with E.C. She’s been asking me the sort of… interesting questions that one might ask on a date, I suppose. Stuff about one’s family and how I think they might describe me, my history of growing up, the five things you wouldn’t be able to live without… that sort of thing. It’s a bit of the third degree; I wonder if this is how Judge Brown-Jackson feels in front of the Senate subcommittee right about now. I mean, if everything works out properly, it’s a lifetime appointment in either case.

But when she start telling me about her own history – and in some fairly vivid detail, I might add – I found myself wondering about its veracity. I hate the fact that I’ve gotten to this point, where I question everything I’ve been told by someone, but when she references a specific historical event – something that can easily be looked up – why would she think I wouldn’t double-check it?

She spoke about her parents being lost in an airplane crash when she was six years old, and being raised by her uncle from that point thereafter. She even mentioned the date and where they took off from. Now, when something that big happens, like a plane going down, there are records of it on the Internet, sometimes as simple as checking Wikipedia, but also other places, complete with victim lists. And while I could find details of the event, and a list of victims, there were no surnames that matched hers; at least, nothing that matched up with the surname on her email account. I asked her if she took her uncle’s surname once he began to take care of her, and she denied it, which only deepened the mystery.

I didn’t point out the inconsistency right away, because at that point, she claimed her surname was that of her grandfather, not her father – at which point, she gave me a name that was in fact one of those lost in this specific incident (along with a wife’s name), all of which sort of verifies her story, but leaves me still puzzled about the idea of using one’s grandfather’s surname rather than one’s father’s. And if she used her maternal grandfather’s name, wouldn’t that be the same as that of her maternal uncle? It’s all very confusing, and leaves me suspicious.

I’d like to be able to just believe her, and leave it at that. Certainly, if her story is in fact true, my skepticism has got to come across as rather disrespectful; how dare I tell a girl who lost her parents at such a young age (and might have perished in the crash herself had she not fallen ill shortly before the trip was to take place) that ‘I don’t think that really happened to you’?

But the story seems too neatly tied together; it feels far more like fiction than real life. Maybe it’s just my natural skepticism and cynicism; maybe it’s just from being burned several times in the past. Of course, what does E.C. have to gain from a story like this? Why tell such a lie, that can be looked up and debunked?

It leaves me with far more questions than answers, including the one about where this relationship could possibly go. If I don’t believe her – if there’s a lack of trust between us – where can this possibly go? But the same question can be asked if she’s lying. Either way, it crashes and burns, just like flight 255.

Still, if a face-to-face meeting is still in the othing, maybe things can be hammered out through that. Verification of her actual existence might go quite a ways toward confirming the rest of her story. Hopefully, we can make progress towards that.

But until then, wish me luck, honey. I’m definitely going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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