Hello Again.

From: Edgar

Sent: XX/XX/200X

To: Alice

Subject: Hello again.

Hello Again. Do you remember me? It's been a while, hasn't it? I've missed you. I've been well; I hope you're doing okay. I don't know if this address still works, but I hope that somehow this message finds you. I can't believe it's been a year. Wow. I hope you're doing all right. Message me back. I'll be waiting.


I lean back from my keyboard and stare at the glowing screen in front of me. The cursor blinks expectantly. I rest my hands on the keyboard, fingers poised but not moving. I reread everything that I've written about a hundred times before I finally breathe. Moving the pointer across the screen I click send.

It's been a year since I last heard from Alice. We met online. I know how that sounds, but our relationship was purely platonic. I mean, we only met face-to-face one time.

I was flipping through random blogs on the internet, hopping from one to another through a series of link exchanges. I couldn't tell you how I found her blog; I was so lost at the time. After going through what felt like a million different links, a million different worlds, I stumbled upon her blog.

Hello, my name is Alice. I am a student at X University. I am 21… it was the usual blather. I don't know why, but for some reason as I read through her entries I found something I liked. I could tell we could be friends, so I gave her a comment on the first entry I saw.

Hello, I'm Edgar. I like your site, would you think about link-exchanging with me? Something like that. Upfront, I know, but on the internet you could be upfront. It was like being at a masquerade, it didn't matter what you did, and no one could tell it was you. I don't know why, but that feeling of freedom made me more honest than I had ever been in my life. It felt so safe opening up to the most unknown strangers. It just felt like I could be honest because they had no basis for comparison. They didn't know my background, they didn't really know me, and yet they knew me better than anyone I had ever met.

It was the same with Alice; it was as though we were the best of friends but knew nothing about each other. I was privy to every movement in her life, every smile made, tear shed, and kiss given. I knew everything about her, but I knew nothing at all. So, after nearly a year of contact, I suggested that we meet face-to-face. We lived nearly a country apart, but I had saved up some money for a trip that I desperately needed. We agreed to meet together in a little café.

Alice and I met and it was nothing special. We who were so close online had no idea what to say to each other. We sipped at our coffees and sat there looking at each other. Nice weather, how's school, how's work, what's new; all sorts of stupid chit-chat. Why couldn't we connect as easily as we did online?

On the plane ride back all I could obsess about was how we weren't really friends. I knew the most intimate parts of Alice's life, but I didn't actually know her as a person. I knew her as a mixture of online text, photos and cutesy little messages between sort-of friends.

When I got home I took a look at her site and found it gone. There was a little message on the page. What was once vibrant with life and personality was blank with a few hollow little words:

I'm sorry I have to leave. It's just not the same, I can't do this anymore. Maybe I'll see everyone around someday, but it's goodbye for now. Alice.

I was devastated. I couldn't see how she could just throw it all away. Wasn't it a real friendship? If it was, how could it have been so easy to forget about it all? I felt silly; I was depressed over an online friend. Shit, could I have been any sadder? My real friends noticed a bit of a change in me and asked if everything was all right. Yes, fine, never better, don't worry about me. I desperately wanted to talk to Alice, to talk about all my inner feelings and ideas. I felt so lonely. Alice was like a friend who I carried with me everywhere.

I needed to talk to her. I sent her hundreds of e-mail messages, I lurked online forums for just a glimpse of her. I knew I couldn't find her if she didn't want to be found. We were the closest friends, the greatest strangers and yet all she had to do was walk into the crowd and I would never see her again.

In reality there was no way I could find her. Alice was just a name given to me, real or fake, it doesn't matter. Alice was real to me, she was my friend. As for the woman behind Alice, I couldn't say. Some days I wish she was back with me, and so I try to connect with my closest stranger the only way I know how.

Hello again…