Crazy in Love
By Caitlin White
It’s just a dumb golden star. It doesn’t even exist in reality. It’s just a digital facsimile of a star, really, a tacit approval from someone who has never even met you. What could be more bizarre than feeling something form in your heart based on a tweet or favorite? What could be crazier? I wanted to lose myself in the big band brass of it anyway, the saxophone riff of a mutual, unspoken crush, and the tug to know someone else’s thoughts. How could Twitter be my love story? I closed the browser and went to get dressed.
It felt like fall, but it was really winter. It was New Year’s Eve, and though dateless as usual, I was determined to look good enough to erase my loneliness. My brother worked at a fairly high-end cocktail bar and they were having a classic, five-course, fancy New Year’s Eve celebration. He had his cute girlfriend, whom I adored, to be his date, but I was going stag. That meant instead of hurrying through a primping routine to go meet up with a boyfriend/lover/date, I spent the full prep time on myself, perfecting every detail for no one. Or for just me, which sometimes felt like no one. So, I finally turned back to the outside world I’d connected with the most since I’d become a fledgling music writer in New York City: Twitter.
Plenty of people don’t like selfies because they think they’re inane, vain, narcissistic, mindless–the list goes on. I love selfies because they give me the chance to find an angle on myself that I find beautiful. Finding yourself beautiful is a hard, hard task, one that can be exacerbated by the dread of being alone. I was 24 and I had been alone for four years. While many of my conservative, religious friends had fallen in love in their teen years and gotten married, even had babies, I remained stubbornly single. I was unwilling to settle for a sorta love story and unable to find most men more interesting than pursuing a career. But I had developed what was admittedly a weird flirtation with another writer on Twitter. I posted the selfie and went to my dinner, ignoring the internet through all five courses. But when the toasts and kissing hit, I checked again—he faved the photo, and that felt like a sign. “Happy New Year!” I said to whomever had toasted me and downed my champagne with gusto.
Three days later and I’m eyeing my Gchat box like a drug. Three nights in a row we’d talked about literature, music, college, our families, hopes and dreams—all the shit that make twentysomethings fall in love. I was already gone and felt like an addict. My friends called him my “internet boyfriend” and just shook their heads at my constant phone clutching. But I trusted my instincts, and I kept the conversations going. Within two weeks he was planning to visit. Everyone laughed at my giddiness. Everyone said the same thing: “You’re crazy.”
I walked through Brooklyn every night blaring the same love songs through my headphones and battling the same fears. Was it real, or were we just imagining it? Would this phase last or suddenly pass by without warning? Of course, plenty of songs, movies, and books speak of not being able to do work, distracted by love, but I had never felt this. It feels dumb, even now, to write about falling in love through Twitter and Gchat–texts, selfies, and phone calls standing in for our first dates. It even sounds mundane at this point or like the stuff of a bad young adult novel. But to me, it was a romance for the ages, a classic tale of distance, time, and chance glancing off into an unshakeable trust.
And I still remember the first time I saw him, standing at the bottom of a train platform about to go up. I’d seen him in videos and photos, and I’d gotten more of a sense of him through texts and emails than most people know about their best friends—I guess that’s how it goes with writers—but seeing that he was real made all the fears and craziness fade. Finally, I felt sane—in real life.