Well, that made for an interesting weekend.
Translating an online friendship into reality is often potentially fraught with potential disillusion and disappointment so meeting my friend Jen after almost 5 years of corresponding via blogs, email, facebook and occasional chat was destined to be an interesting exercise.
Picking her up at the airport, I was relieved to recognize her immediately (and she me – thank god for honest pictures). Physically, she was somewhat different than I envisioned and personality wise, the confidence, brashness and quixotic humour translated into a slight awkwardness and a bit of rather charming self-consciousness.
I felt remarkably (for me) sanguine about the meeting and realized in hindsight that the reality was that I was simply comfortable with the possibility of it working out either way; ultimately, other than during a very brief period of our correspondence, I felt I had some insight into the reality of Jen and as such, was neither overly invested nor in any way counting on anything other than it would be fun to meet face to face.
As it is the beginning of Pride Week here in colourful Toronto, and Jen is gay (how serendipitous – it wasn’t planned as she is ostensibly in here for a conference connected with her job), I did some preliminary homework by quizzing some of Rowan’s gay friends about a good place to eat, hang out in the Village.
Thus, after booking her into her hotel in the wilds of Mississauga, we headed downtown for a short tour and then plans for the evening centered on the Village (Church and Wellesley – the gay district of Toronto).
Slacks was the name of the restaurant/club . Small, casual and with a lovely atmosphere, on entering I felt immediately comfortable. Sipping red wine, Jen and I felt out way through what was in fact a ‘first” meeting and caught up with each other’s lives. The evening was young and slowly the place began to fill up with a wide variety of individuals, many of whom were colourful and unique in their demeanours and appearances and offered an endless source of delightful contemplation.
Jen was effusive and charmingly brash as she relaxed with several drinks (I had two glasses of wine then stopped as I was driving). We met two wonderful ladies – waves to Jocelyn and Wendy – who as the evening progressed told us that the place was closing for a private cast party for an Indie film called The Baby Formula (here is a synopsis ) ... well as luck would have it, they gave us tickets to remain and we ended up having a blast at the party as well as enjoying free drinks, food and entertainment!
Also part of our party was a lovely lady called Gayle – in for the weekend from Sarnia and smitten – badly and fulsomely – with my West Coast friend. Gayle had been married for 25+ years when she fell in love with another woman and discovered what she now feels she was suppressing for many years. She earnestly tried to convince me that I had to be “honest” and that if I came “out” , while initially difficult, she is sure that like her, not one of her truly important relationships suffered in the end and she continues to have a terrific relationship with her three kids and even with her ex-husband. In vain, I argued patiently that I really, truly was extremely FOND of penises and couldn’t envision a life without them! Apparently, she remains unconvinced yet at the same time admits that I give off a very decided “straight” air.
She did try to solicit other opinions that once you try pussy you’ll never go back, but I remain unconvinced LOL.
I know that I found the entire evening fascinating as my penchant for people-watching was well satisfied with the variety of individuals who wandered in and out of my purview; further, I got to dance which I enjoy thoroughly (even if I’m not that good at it) and had some stimulating conversations with some truly interesting people.
I did note some realities that made me laugh – such as the fact that apart from myself, the only other TWO individuals who were wearing skirts were two transvestites – one of whom was 6’3” tall, probably weighed around 280 lbs and was the father of 7! (yeah, we saw the pictures and the kids – both sexes- are the spit of “Steph with a K”).
Perhaps it was spending my teenage years in Montreal, but I’ve never had hang-ups one way or the other about gender issues. I’ve always been completely comfortable with love being love, whatever the guise and never had the least difficulty accepting people’s choices.
It was also rather fascinating to me to watch the younger girls and see how comfortable they were in their skin and their choices – a decided and positive step forward from when I was young and my much later “outed” gay friends were terrified of exposure.
It will be interesting to see what unfolds vis-a-vis the friendship I’ve had with Jen for several years; my instinct tells me she was ultimately extremely uncomfortable with meeting in the flesh (despite pushing for it for several years – she has been in Toronto before on business) and I got a sense of disquiet from her that perplexed me.
To be clear, it is not that she has a yen for me in a sexual or emotional way (in fact, she is in a very long and painful recovery from a very bad love affair); rather, perhaps she had infused the reality of selkie with something that in reality doesn’t exist? As any of my regular blogger buddies know, I don’t hold with pretence nor fantasy and what you see is what you get; but perhaps that isn’t what she had created in her mind?
I’m really not sure.
But meeting Jen was a step forward for me in the direction of rediscovering the reality of who I am – of finding the much neglected social aspect of my personality, whose demise I have mourned greatly recently as revelation after revelation has made itself known over the past many years of pain.
So all in all, whether Jen chooses to maintain our online friendship (we originally met on one of my now, long defunct blogs on Yahoo 360 and have maintained our connection on facebook) is up to her. With a few understandable differences, I found Jen to be very much how I envisioned and have no regrets about the face to face.