“Love Afar” by Terri A. Hateley

Imagine a loveless life and a lost lonely feeling deep inside your very being. You have just lost a loved one and another isn't far behind. You are looking for a distraction, a reason to carry on, something to make your life interesting again. You want to die yourself, most of the time.

You turn on the computer and log onto the Internet, just to say hello to a few chatters you have struck up a friendship with. The chatting room you log into is WBS (Web Broadcasting System) Forty Something. In this room you post a photo of yourself or your alter ego beside your name and you send a big "G'Day mates" in the message box and off you go down the scroll bar to see who is going to answer. They all do! There are one hundred and forty five chatters on line tonight. And guess what? You answer them all. It might take all night but you get through them. While exchanging all the pleasantries and beginning to loosen up (someone has made you laugh), out of the blue, a pleasant looking man is on your screen addressing you in a fashion that takes your breath away. And the whole world is reading his enthusiastic words, but you don't care, out of one hundred and forty five chatters, this man is talking to you. You decide, maybe this man is just the medicine you need and your heart begins to thump and a smile crosses your quivering lips. He is overwhelmed by you and your photo as you are he, but you don't tell him that. Once the introductions have taken place, the who's, where's and what's are taken care of, he tells you he would very much like to get to know you better and asks to go to a private room with you. You agree, and so glad you did. You have so much in common with him and after an hour of chatting you are "finishing each others sentences." You can't believe this is happening. At last! Your soul mate!

Before you know it, five hours have slipped by. There is thirteen hours difference between you, his day, your night. You don't want to leave to go to bed but you must. So you arrange to meet again on line when you wake in the morning. Bed!..... Why go there? You know you can't sleep, visions of him and the things he has said flashing through your mind all night. How can this be happening? You are an adult and you have just interacted on a machine! How does he feel about this, is he thinking about you too? You toss and turn all night, then at last, its time to get yourself out of bed and go on-line. "Oh God! Will he be there?" Did you dream it all? Where did this strange over length phone number come from then? Logging on is slow, you begin to panic, thinking, will he wait for you? Did he sleep, is he still asleep? (He is out of work, but is studying computer technology.) Finally the modem has gone through its hissing and groaning and you are ON........... Yes, there he is waiting, your heart skips a beat and flutters like it's going to fly out of your chest. He tells you he has been awake thirty six hours, chatting. Okay, he has other girlfriends. What did you expect? So you play it cool and he is still so energetic with his words and you try with all your might but your heart still flutters. god, woman you have only just met this man, how can you be jealous? Are you falling in love?

The time is getting on and you have to leave for your daily outside (REAL TIME) life but again you don't want to leave. You make him promise he will sleep while you are away. He agrees and off you go. But, do you get on with what is required of you? Very hard to do when it's him that is the only thing on your mind..... This is how it flows for the next three weeks.

Yay, home time, gotta get on line, gotta get on line your mind chants. Oh, will he be there? Yes, he is there eagerly waiting for you, he has missed you too. You exchange phone numbers again. So after the normal six to seven hour chat, you ring him while you are preparing for bed. The sound of his voice is mellow and smooth sounding. "Thump, thump," goes your heart again. Then the clangor! He says, "I love you!" and your knees buckle, the words, the wonderful angelic voice on the other end of the line is too much for your ears, you almost faint...... He hears the sound that has caught in your throat and asks if you are okay. "Yes," you tell him and hang up. You don't know what to say, he has taken you off guard and you feel as silly as a love sick teenager. How could he do this to you, he has only known you for three weeks. But you know you feel the same and you are not going to tell him, not yet anyway, you don't want to seem to easy.

Then there is the ache in your chest when one morning you are set to go on line and the computer is broken!........ You panic, you want to cry, you ring him but his phone is busy, of course, he is on line waiting for you. You ring a girl friend in Sydney and beg her to send an e-mail to him on your behalf..... Then you ring a mutual friend in Melbourne and request she do the same, just In case the first party's e-mail fails and again the same procedure to a friend in Perth. Of course they are happy to oblige as they have cyber-loves too. Then with a heavy heart you head off to do your daily routine. But as usual your mind is on him. What is he doing, who is he chatting with, is she pretty, do they do the cyber-sex thing? And wonder why he hasn't done it with you. Is there something wrong with you? Why hasn't he? (Not that you want it, you are just curious.) Has he got the e-mails yet?

You decide it is time to tell him you love him too. So you write him a poem.


You walk the meadows of my unconsciousness
weaving threads in dreams
You, a tantalizing stranger
from another time zone
another shore
I can only reflect
with bated breath
in time elapsed
What excitement, sensation,
stimulus next
Your face dominant
minute by minute
Your energy, your will
tugging me
Repress aspirations,
A chance I don't stand
The undertow stronger than I
You win
Declare I do
my love today.

The computer is repaired, you are over the moon and you send off your poem then begin reading the twenty seven e-mails he has sent you. Is this man crazy for you or what? He is very impressed on how you "found a way" to contact him and how god is on our side. You are sad though because the hour you have logged on, he is sleeping and you are anxious for him to know that you love him. When next you meet online after intense anxiety you are flattered at his being flattered on the way you have chosen to inform him of your love and he is very much in love with your sensitivity and of course the title of the poem is related to his "handle" online. He won't be out done, and he writes a poem for you. You are besoddened with tears because no one has ever written a poem especially for you. He calls you his Mentor. This inspires you to collaborate a poem and he then writes you a song, "The Sun Is Setting In Your Eyes," and he posts it to you via snail mail... On receival of this tape, the sound of his singing voice sends you into a trance beyond belief. Then those words again, "I love you, Terri." You cry and vow to yourself and god that you will be with this man one day.

The ultimate then happens. He invites you to the USA to be with him and the "m" word is mentioned in passing. You are lost for words once again. You have to think about it, you tell him, but deep down inside, this is a dream come true. He wants you, he loves you, he needs you, he wants to marry you. But! This is an enormous decision. You must move to another country on the other side of the planet. You have commitments that will not be fulfilled until the end of the year, only four months to wait. You have kids, you love your kids. Your kids are adults, they are capable of looking after themselves. It is your turn at happiness, your turn to live and love again. It has been a long time since you have ventured beyond the walls that you built around you to protect you from men who get pleasure by manipulating you, degrading you, emotionally and physically. Yes, you know all these things, but you have a one track mind, you trust and love this man and you want to grow old with him. He makes you laugh again, he up lifts you and encourages you, he helped you through the death of your last surviving parent, he believes in you and loves you for your intellect.

You discuss and plan with this man of your dreams and he informs you that he will pay half of your ticket and pay for all the extras that go along with your travel over to the States. He gives you his credit card number to pay for the ticket. Wow, does he trust you and love you to do this? What is stopping you? The decision is final, you are going to him. You arrange with your real time life other options and apply for your visa, but you opt for a visa waiver, which gives you three months in the country, then you leave. You both decide this is the way to go because you will work on the visa side of things when you get there. If only you knew that things were not done that way. A visa waiver is no option, when your three months are up, they are up! You do not interfere with this form of non-visa.

Everything goes to plan, you are chatting every chance you have and the phone is running hot. It is far cheaper for him to ring you at 28? per minute compared to your 99? per minute. You have a garage sale and sell everything, because, you tell yourself and everyone you know, you are not coming back. And you honestly believe this, because you have never felt this passion for another human being in all your life, that you can remember anyway. The passion that burns in you rages night and day, you can't eat, sleep, or concentrate. Your mind is filled unconditionally of him, you are so in love. Your arms ache to hold him and have him hold you and protect you. The countdown begins, you are like a cat on a hot tin roof. Three days to eternal happiness. You board the plane on the tenth and arrive on the eleventh but it is the twelfth in Australia. You feel nostalgic. But then, THERE HE IS!

He isn't as tall as you expected, his smile is wonderful, and that voice! You melt in his arms and he holds you firm so you do not buckle, his kisses are soft and tender just as you imagined (two out of three ain't bad). You are melting. His accent is driving you wild, you can live with this, it is so smooth and not an annoyance. Of course he loves your accent so much that he is too busy listening to how you speak and not what you are saying! This unsettles you a little because you do not like having to repeat yourself. Then it's home to his "trailer." You knew about this but it is so small, where are you going to put your things? Why didn't he make room for you? He had plenty of time after all. Oh yeah, that's right, he did get a job so that would explain it.

Two weeks later, the honeymoon is over, the perfect bliss has a hole in it. He yells, screams, and swears at you. You smoke too much, you drink too much coffee, you are on the 'puter for too many hours. You yell back, you are new to the country, don't know a soul, have no transport, you are homesick what is expected of you? You know a few people on the computer who are living in the same county, so you ring one and arrange accommodation. As you leave you see a tear in his eye. You are torn up inside when that night he rings you and begs for a date, of course you accept because you are in love still. You stay the night and he promises to be patient with you until you are accustomed to your new surroundings. It goes well for a few more weeks and he blows up again, because you don't feel like going out on his day off to visit with more strangers, you tell him you would rather spend the day with him alone, but he won't see reason and tells you that if the shoe was on the other foot and he was in Australia, would I not want him to meet my friends? You tell him it's done differently in Oz. "We have a BBQ and invite all we know to it so everyone gets to meet a special friend." But he is hard to get through to and he goes on and on. So you move out again only to return five days later because you only have two more weeks left in his country and you want to give it another shot. All is well until three days before you leave and he is at it again and he tells you it won't work because of the coffee and cigarettes. You are emotional but you remain silent, after all you will be out of it soon and home with the people who accept you for all your faults. You will not make love with him one final time. This hurts him and you are happy.

Home to begin again, life to repair. He helps you a little financially and the e-mails are less frequent and the chats non-existent, but he says he still loves you. What is his game? Is he still wanting to control you, is his ego hurt?

LOVE AFAR? Never again........... I only talk to a computer.................