Aye, there’s the rub.
This story is not without its complications, without its drama. Indeed, the greatest twist to this entire story has yet to be revealed. Now it is time to do so.
I mentioned that I woke up one morning in December 2009 to an email from a friend letting me know that I was being looked for on Craig’s List. What I didn’t mention was that as soon as I suspected who it was, I did a little bit of Google Stalking myself.
When I first thought that it might be Nook looking for me, I had a brief moment of excitation. It’s flattering to be sought. It’s flattering to be the one being “chased” - no matter how small the context. This is something that I, as a man, had never fully experienced. Sure, there may have been a girl or two many years ago who wanted to go out with me, but never said anything -- but this was quantifiably different.
This was someone who had gone out of their way not only to passively look for me, but to actively do so; to seek direct contact, using modern means to accomplish her task. That, to this date, is thrilling to think about.
It turns out that Nook posted on Craig’s List in multiple countries, hoping to find me. Such was the fondness of her memories of our interactions, as well as desire to reconnect.
I don’t think I’ve ever expressed to Nook what those first hours were like after I read that email informing me that someone was looking for me.
I checked my email with an update frequency of about once per minute after I sent my reply to the Craig’s List posting.
I created special email filtering rules to make sure anything from the Craig’s List system would not accidentally get marked as spam. I had my spam mailboxes open and was doing regular review of the content, just in case.
That morning was like no other for me, and I believe it is safe to say that ever since that morning, nothing has been the same.
And so there I was, armed with only a vague suspicion of who might be seeking me, but I’ve learned that my instincts are usually pretty good, so I did my Googling to see what might turn up.
What I found provided context to my suspicions, but also a bit of sadness.
You see, I found Nook. Or, more to the point, I found her photograph. And a news story. A news story that did not surprise me in the least, but also muted, somewhat, those first few hours of excitation I was feeling.
It was her engagement announcement in a newspaper local to where she lives.
It included a picture of the lucky man, and Nook, embraced.
Indeed, it was the same man that Nook had told me about starting to date all those years ago, and whom she had shared a few stories of their early relationship experience before she and I lost touch in the start of the 2000’s.
“Okay” I thought.
The story in my head made sense now.
The engagement announcement set a date for her wedding for mid 2010. It was announced, curiously, over two years prior to the actual date. But it started to become clear -- Nook was likely going through her wedding plans by this point in late 2009, looking at her duties and obligations, reviewing the guest list, and so on.
As a part of the review process, she was most likely looking at her address book, and in doing so, found Chair’s name. And wondered “whatever happened to...”
This is how I immediately re-contextualised the outreach. She was that same, sweet, young woman I knew, but about to begin the next most amazing part of her life, and merely wanted to touch base and see how I had been getting on over the years.
So, armed with this new information, I treated our early conversations very much as two friends getting back in touch. There was never the slightest hint of anything more - we really did spend weeks just emailing back and forth about our lives, the people we had become, and the experiences which brought us to this moment.
It was innocent, exploratory, and, perhaps in reflection, a little bit dangerous.
One of the things Nook said to me early on in this renewal of our friendship was that she did not want to get too close, or to find herself in an “emotional affair” of any sort. This made it clear that some of the topics we were edging towards in our mails were a bit too personal, so we adjusted.
But it didn’t last.
Context in full.
As you can imagine, this situation, this friendship, was becoming somewhat more, shall we say, risky than most of this site would belie.
The feelings that Nook and I had been building for each other, through our emails, through our phone conversations, and through what was to be, I hoped, our imminent meeting, for the first time in person, were wrapped in an uncomfortable truth, an awkward context.
Nook was engaged to be married. Yet she was feeling something more than just friendship for me.
As we considered our future steps, if there were to be any, we both had a lot of deep questions to be asking ourselves. Was she just having cold feet, was I somehow merely drawn to that which I could not “have” -- the usual.
We talked openly about these matters, these concerns, and did our best to de-contextualise “us” from “her situation.”
But it was what it was, and if Nook and I were to meet, even in public, it would have to be also quite in secret. We both were putting a lot at risk, but were both willing to take that risk. We had a bond, a connection that had lasted over a decade, and even with the entirety of this context known, we had at least to try to meet once.
Now you know.
Now that this piece of information is known, the entire context of this story takes on new light. Not only what has already been shared, but what will be in the future.