The Reality I Didn’t Want to Face

The truth is: this blog post is motivated by a fallacy. I lied. I lied to you and, more disappointingly, I lied to myself.

This is, in many ways, the written piece I never wanted to produce. It’s the one I foresaw one day and dreaded the possibility of the reality facing me now. And, no, it’s not because I’m rectifying a lie. It’s because I didn’t want to face or accept the truth. As many of you know, earlier this last month, I took a trip to visit a friend. Someone I had known for such a long time and, honestly, couldn’t wait to see.

I wrote a blog post about the experience, which you can read here. Was everything in that post a lie? No. All of those feelings, those emotions, that story, they’re all very real and very present, even now. What wasn’t true, was the spin I put on the experience I had visiting her.

I just want to say that the only reason I’m writing this post  is because I have to maintain the integrity of my blog and my own personal shards of dignity. Integrity because I wrote of an experience and published it. Dignity because I can no longer stand to mask what wasn’t an entirely positive experience as an overly astounding one. It wasn’t and I cannot stand by any other assertion.

Really, I hate writing this. I hate being negative, exposing this part of my life. But I can’t be dishonest, either. My only hope is that something positive emerges from the depths of my blunder. Anyway, the truth of the matter is that my trip to Wisconsin to visit my friend didn’t end on 11 January when I flew back home to Philadelphia.

No, it ended this past weekend, along with, seemingly, my friendship with the very person I went to meet. Make no mistake: these words are like daggers.

It hurts. It stings.

To elaborate a bit, my trip was not all “fun and games” like I was hoping (and probably the both of us were hoping). Instead, there was silence. Lots and lots of silence. There were many, many awkward moments. There were many times I felt downright unwelcome and unliked. I felt like a stranger, a sub-human when I thought I’d be feeling at home next to one of my very best friends. I felt embarassed and destroyed inside. I felt saddened that the fears I had conjured before I went to visit had become my reality. I felt that what I had spent, emotionally, monetarily, and physically, didn’t bear fruit.

On my way home, during a layover in Chicago, I had time to reflect. Disappointed Eagles fans heading home were watching the Cowboys and Packers, hoping Green Bay would win, not because they were fans, but because as Philadelphians, you cannot like the Cowboys. Watching that game, I had never wanted a football team to win more badly than I had wanted the Cowboys to win on that day. I don’t even like football. That says it all.

Sitting in that terminal and thinking about what had happened, that the event I had counted down towards over 93 days was over. Not only was it over, it was over in the worst possible way. I had not only had a strange experience, but I may have lost my friend as well. The sheer thought had me fighting back tears. Could you imagine? A 21-year-old guy with a tear-smeared face in the middle of one of America’s busiest airports? But that’s what happened. I couldn’t wait to get home. The sad part is, I couldn’t wait to get home a day-and-a-half after landing in Minneapolis.

As I had mentioned earlier, I knew the risk of meeting my online friend. I knew the potential existed for the physical meeting to destroy everything. I thought I knew her. I thought she knew me. I thought it would happen as I hoped it would. It didn’t. Was I about to give up, though? Not a chance.

“Perhaps I could still rescue it,” I thought.

Because giving up would indicate that the past year didn’t mean anything to me. That I had spent that time getting to know someone disposable; someone I could just simply throw out of my life and forget. I’m not that kind of person. And she isn’t someone I wanted to forget. I didn’t talk to her for three weeks. I purposefully avoided interactions on any medium, whether it be Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, because I didn’t want to talk to her before I was ready. The trip had certainly created a rift between us, but I wanted so badly to fix it.

During those three weeks, I berated and cursed myself thinking I had done or said something wrong, that I had offended her in some way, that I had done the last thing on earth I wanted to do to her in some way I didn’t even know. I kept blaming myself. It’s in my nature to assume a problem is my fault. My friends encouraged me to keep trying, but when they came to know the true nature of the trip, even they told me it’s better off giving up. But, for me, giving up wasn’t an option. This was my friend and I wanted to keep her friendship, regardless of what it meant to me. That’s how much it meant to me.

So after three weeks of silence, I finally mustered up the courage to ask what had happened and, begrudgingly, I got an answer. The answer, I’ll say, left a sour taste. It only left me with more questions. It left me frustrated and confused, much akin to the prior three weeks. It seems, though, that my inquiries will go unanswered.

An abrupt end to the conversation seemingly brought an end to everything. It was clear to me that this relationship was just about done and that I had lost my friend.

Yes, it’s sad. I’m still bothered by it, even now. How could it not? Writing this blog post; it really hurt. We both had so much excitement for this trip and to see it spiral so extremely out of control was depressing to see. Still, I maintained that we could be friends. Despite that. Despite my friends telling me it wasn’t worth it. In the end, from my perspective, it looks like they were right.

I don’t want to end on a negative tone, because I’m an optimist. I gained so much from this trip as well. For one, online friendships are a beautiful and real medium of relationships. My one bad experience has not, in any way, deterred me from any of the other friendships I’ve formed over Twitter and other social media platforms. I value them as much as I did before. My hope is still to meet many of them. Secondly, over the past three weeks, I’ve learned what amazing friends I really have, whether they be in-person or online through social media platforms. In fact, I’ve strengthed seven of my friendships over the three weeks since I’ve returned. They’ve been so incredibly supportive of me and were very understanding of why it hurt as much as it did (you know who you guys are so, thank you!).

I’ll conclude with this. My friends mean the world to me. I’ve lost close friends in the past so I know what it’s like to physically lose someone. That’s why I’ll go to any lengths to preserve a relationship with someone I care about, even if it means I have to degrade and humble myself, a view that most of my friends don’t share. But even I can only go so far and make so much of an effort before I feel like I need to start looking after myself as well. I’m very grateful for the experience.

I’m grateful that I got to meet her and see her world. I’m grateful to her for what she’s done for me, not just in those four days, but in the past year. There has to be a reason I tried to save it, right?

But, honestly, never give up on a friend. Because if you’re truly meant to be friends, you’ll find a way through anything. Because even now, despite the experience and snubbing, in the face of all of my friends calling me a naive, foolish idiot, a part of me doesn’t want to give up on this.

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