*this is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that happened to me personally
In the end, I ghosted my catfish.
I wasn’t lonely, and I wasn’t looking for a man.
A year after my last breakup, I joined social media intending to promote a writing project I was working on. Although I never actually finished that project, I found social media to be a pleasant way to waste my time. I became addicted to the instant gratification social media provided, especially Twitter.
It wasn’t long before I learned the meaning of “sliding into your DMs.” I was suddenly experiencing more attention from men than I’d had since high school. One man, in particular, stood out from the crowd. He was handsome and charming, and I grew accustomed to receiving regular messages from him.
When his messages disappeared for two weeks around Christmas one year, I was devastated. When he returned, it was with a vengeance.
He sent me poetry and selfies, which turned out to be my favorite combination. Barely a day went by without a new collection of selfies from my online beau. I was smitten.
I was also smitten with Twitter.
Is he online? Has he been online lately? What is he doing? Who is he talking to? All those questions could be answered in one place: Twitter.
Like me, he was an avid Twitter user, and if he wasn’t working or sleeping, he was tweeting, retweeting, liking other people’s tweets, or responding to them, and I was watching his Twitter activity from across the ocean like a creepy post-modern voyeur.
I’m not proud of it, but I watched his every online move to the best of my ability. When he took the time to post memes or reply to his Twitter crew, I grew jealous and angry. Of course, I couldn’t say anything about it. Then he would know I was cyberstalking him, and I’ll be the first to admit it. That’s not cool.
In addition to my Twitter habit, I had developed a workout habit. I was in the best shape of my life at that time, probably because I spent every afternoon at the gym lifting weights and thinking about the moment that my overseas love interest set foot on American soil.
My online suitor was from Europe, but he said he was willing to come to the United States to see if our international spark might turn into a flame.
What I didn’t know was exactly how much time, effort, and money it would take for him to get a visa.
We never spoke about it. Sure, we spoke about airline tickets and hotel accommodations, but we never talked about him getting a visa. Nor did we set a date for his arrival. He was always just “on the way,” and I always just believed it.
Every time he said he planned to arrive “in around a month,” I told all my friends. I restricted my diet, and I turned up the heat on my workouts. When he finally landed at the airport, I wanted to make sure I was ready.
I wanted it to be love at first sight, especially for him.
I’d only sent him the very best selfies taken in the right light from the perfect angles.
While I’ve never believed in using filters, I’ve always been a big fan of using every other trick in the book. That included makeup, lots and lots of makeup. With enough eyeliner, mascara, lipliner, and heavy red lipstick, I felt like a selfie-ready goddess.
Add to that the perfect pose and the fact that I sucked my stomach in, in every photo, and he thought he was talking to someone a bit more slender and glamorous than the real me.
In real life, I’m more of an oily-skinned, rumple-haired mess in stretchy pants and a stained t-shirt. I wanted his first look at me in person to more closely resemble my carefully curated photos than the face I saw daily in the mirror. So every time he said he was a month away from showing up at the local airport, I panicked.
As it turned out, all those extra workouts were for nothing. He never set an actual date of arrival. In fact, he never even had my address. It’s a mystery why I believed he would suddenly show up on my doorstep under the circumstances, but I did.
How it ended.
After pretending he was ready to visit me for the better part of a year, he finally admitted that he didn’t even know where to begin. He told me that visas were expensive and difficult to obtain. I hadn't even considered that.
We didn’t talk much about him coming to visit after his confession that he hadn’t done a thing to make it happen. To be fair, I hadn’t done anything to make it happen either. With the exception of a couple of extra workouts and telling all my friends, I’d done exactly nothing to prepare for his arrival either. I didn’t even have a place for him to stay.
Things gently began to fizzle after that. We both decided independently that we’d had enough of social media in general and Twitter in particular. We agreed to keep in touch via a texting app instead, but one day I decided to stop.
That’s right. I ghosted my catfish.
But was he really a catfish?
I believe the photos and life stories he shared with me were real and true. Likewise with his job and his geographical location. However, I never knew his real name or his true intentions. So I suppose it depends upon how you define a catfish.
In the end, none of it mattered anyhow. We are each nothing more than a part of the other’s online history, which is no doubt as deep and extensive as the ocean that separated us. It separates us still.
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