I wasn't sure whether I'd slept or not. I just knew I'd been tossing and turning for the past few hours, and it was far too hot and sticky to get any sleep. I'd be glad when the summer humidity gave way to the fall not-quite-so-humidity; there'd at least be some respite. It must have been somewhere around three a.m., and just lying here in the dark wondering if I would ever go to sleep or not wouldn't do me any good. Maybe I could go downstairs for a while, find something to occupy my mind. I just needed to make sure I didn't put too much weight on that creaky stair. I unplugged my little e-mail device from the wall charger, automatically, without thinking, cradled it gently in my hands like a treasured possession, and headed for the kitchen. I placed my elbows on the kitchen counter and stared at the coffee pot. I'm quite sure that was the last thing I wanted.
Right at that moment, for some reason, you sent me a message.
Somehow, this didn't seem all that unexpected, even though it made no sense. Three hours separated us; we both knew it was an ungodly hour for me; the chances were I wouldn't see that message until the morning. I've had to grapple with this ever since; I've had to recognize that my beliefs have had to change considerably since that night. This was not chance. There was something intended about it all. You wrote to me, no doubt without expecting me to read and reply. I replied, no doubt expecting you had gone on to bed. There was something more going on. You'd checked into that hotel room to escape the heat; a hotel with a pool, a room with air conditioning, a chance to get the sleep you needed to catch up on after four days of seasonal but soaring temperatures. A chance to finally get comfortable; but comfortable is far from what you were. You had an emergency to deal with; people were as usual reaching out, dependent on you, reliant on your strength, your courage, your resolve to get them out of the most difficult of situations. I thought that night, as I'd long thought; who do you turn to when you need someone? You're vulnerable, too. I'd never dared think, up to that moment, that you'd turn to me.
I sent you a reply, letting you know that yes, I was still awake, and yes, I was available to listen to what was going on, whatever use that would be to you.
Somehow, it didn't seem like enough. I wished so much, so very much, that I could do more than just offer mere words of comfort through something as impersonal as an e-mail message. Nevertheless, that was precisely the medium we had at that moment. Just words; just a connection, cold, electronic, but yet so precious; a chance for us to share words, to share messages, to communicate. Already it had been so much more than that for us; it had been the way we had met, got to know each other; became friends. Purely a vehicle for the simplest of messages, good wishes, digital hugs, moments of humor. words of encouragement. A song, a little over a month ago, a birthday present. Technology had made these things possible; but it was nothing more, simply technology. The radio waves, the wires, pumped no blood. The silicon hearts contained no warmth.
Another reply, more lengthy this time, more detailed, more impassioned, more you, making it clear what you needed most at that moment was to be hugged, to be held closely, to feel the comfort of another.
I found myself saying it, writing it, feeling it, even without as much as a thought. I'm with you, I wrote. Feel me with you. Let me hold you. I disbelieved myself as I wrote those words. What I wrote wasn't possible. What I wrote was at best comforting, at most a charming thought, but quite simply not something I could admit to. At that moment, however, I wanted nothing more than to try. I didn't try to concentrate, no scrunching up of eyelids, no clenching of fists. I had no idea what to do; how to do; whether I even could do. There was no embarrassment, nobody there to see me, as I tried, body, mind, heart, and soul, to reach out for you, across the miles, across the ether, across the universe. All I did was relaxed, and let it happen.
There you were.
I felt you with me, as real as you were here, as real as I were there. No, more than that. You were
here. I was
there. I held you close, and slipped my arms around you, placing your head on my chest, running my fingers through your hair. I sensed you with everything of my being, real, physical, close to me; your scent, your breath, nuzzling your soft shoulder, holding you close, gentle, warm, comforting. I had never experienced anything like this before; as I dared to think about it, I realized I could quite easily convince myself this was not happening. I let reason take a break for once, and concentrated on you, on feeling you close to me. I gently brushed your cheek, and whispered calmly, It'll be all right. I'm here
. Closer, closer, as I listened to you breathe, watching over you, letting you relax, willing you to fall asleep, calm, gentle, and in my embrace for the first time that night. The next day, nothing would ever be the same again… neither of us could even predict what the next month would bring. Today, here we are. It's the next year, celebrating yet another of our anniversaries, darling. We have quite a story to share
. Could anyone connect like this?