Internet dating or Facebook are my choices, my cousin Julie explained to me over coffee, if I ever want to go out again. Preferably both.
"Why in God's name would I want to date? I don't even have my divorce yet."
"So? Why should a piece of paper matter? And come on, of course you will want to date again. Maybe not right now, but soon."
"There is no way in hell I am going to try meet someone on the Internet." I didn’t tell her I had made the suggestion to Deborah who hasn't dated (or told her mother about it anyway) for a very long time.
"Deborah has at least put herself on Facebook. Why can't you?"
"She’s in her twenties, Julie. Facebook is like breathing. How can you not noticed the generational divide on this social media crap? Anyway, I don't want to be on Facebook. Does that work for you?"
Really, I was just blowing hot air. My reluctance to put myself 'out there' was really about my intention never to show any man my middle-age body.
"Dear cousin, let me explain something to you," smug, happily-married Julie began. "People find old friends on Facebook all the time. Maybe some old love (you know who I'm thinking of) will find you that way?"
"With my luck, the only people who will find me are geeks I hated in high school. And just who exactly are you calling old? You are still one year older than me!"
I didn't dare ask her who she was thinking of but I knew: my first love, the boy who gave me my first kiss. I had told her all about him one night after TBM's first infidelity in Dubai temporarily brought me back to Ottawa to contemplate divorce, an idea I rejected eventually.
In a drunken stupor, I had opened my emotional vault and spilled everything. As I recall now, I had also barfed.
And how the memories so easily flooded back, even in that crowded coffee shop. Gabriel. Gabe. We had been little kids together in an international school in Buenos Aires, both our fathers representing our respective countries: Canada (mine); Ireland (his). I hadn't even said his name out loud in years.
We had run into each other years later when I was back-packing in Europe. He had laughed when he learned I was studying international development.
"You always were a do-gooder, Joelly," he had said before flashing me that coy million dollar Irish smile. Like his father, he was going to be a diplomat. He was studying international relations.
"Come back to planet Earth, cousin."
"What were we talking about Julie?"
"Dating. Old loves. Facebook."
Can it be over thirty years since we even were in contact? How odd considering he must be living somewhere out in the world. Hell, he must be an ambassador by now.
"Still out there in memory-land, Joelly?"”
To shut her down and shut her up, we went back to her house which lucky for me, was within walking distance of my apartment. Humouring her, I let her help me create a Facebook profile for me.
"Now what the hell do I do?"
How perfectly that simple question sums up my existential hell.
"We wait and see who finds you," I was told.