Everything I write is true — a lie I have kept for nearly a year and a half.
There is a fallacy to this. You see, my name is not Amelia.
The people, their names, too, have all been changed. It’s important for me to make this confession because I cannot tell our story otherwise.
A year ago, I asked him if my blog taught him anything about me that he didn’t already know. “You like to give people made up names,” he said to me, immediately, without needing any time to think about his answer. He charmed me for hours at a time in conversation that was leisurely, but never lazy. I’m certain he would say the same of me.
He was right, of course. I do. I always have. Everyone. Every friend. Every relationship. A made up name came easily to my lips and was transferred to the page for all my tales and misadventures.
Except for him. A nickname would never come to me. I never forced it. I never wondered. I just knew from the beginning. I knew he could never be anyone but who he is.
I met him before I met Jacob McAdoo (a made up name, you always knew.) Only a few short weeks after Thoreau. It was happenstance, the way we found each other. Kismet. An algorithmic fluke. In the early days, we wondered and mused at the good fortune of our unlikely meeting. Anymore it’s a distant past we share, and the details of our early friendship have passed into memories, some easily recalled, others hazy by the passage of time.
The both of us had to step out of our own comfortable characters to reach out to the other and make it work. I went first. Back in those exhilarating, horrible days of online dating, I would never make first contact. I never needed to. The week I found him, I had over 50 new messages from over 50 new men wanting to meet me. I had my pick.
But I stumbled across the profile of a man 2600 miles away that stopped me.
Many men have charmed and wooed me. Many I have fallen for and thought I wanted. But never once have I known an immediate familiarity and knowledge that I was looking at him. This one. This man. He is the one I am going to spend the rest of my life with.
Such an intrinsic revelation seemed absurd to me, so I worked hard to ignore and suppress it for a few months. But I didn’t move along, either. No.
As I remember it, I thought I wrote him that same night. As he remembers it, I disappeared for a day and came back the next to send a message. His memory is more lovely and probably more accurate. I couldn’t leave behind the profile, the mystery and the idea of a man on the east coast and did what I never did: I wrote first.
I didn’t expect a reply from him, but the following morning I had one. What he wrote was far more wonderful than I dared hope for. Throughout my brief few months with Jacob McAdoo, I romanced him with words and messages. We grew intimately close, in some ways, while still remaining complete strangers in others. Looking back over our first several months, I see how beautifully we unfolded before each other, slowly revealing ourselves and drinking deep the communion we shared. He delighted me with his words, and I looked forward to each message.
When I told him that Jacob McAdoo wanted me to stop seeing other men, he let me go quietly. I wanted him to continue writing. We weren’t seeing each other — we were pen pals, were we not? But he didn’t write for a long, lonely month. He may have been more lonely than I was that December. It was not until January 1st, 2014, when he took his turn to step out of comfort and character. I received one short line from him that day, ("Ovid Repurposed, or something like that"), the line that changed our course. He had tried to let me go but could not. And yet he wouldn’t tell me the mistake in Jacob McAdoo that I had made either. He waited patiently for me, not knowing that I would come back.
To this day, I struggle to forgive myself for falling into a quick and disorderly relationship with Jacob McAdoo. I ache knowing of the loss and confusion I caused him during those weeks I was away. But I wouldn’t know of his loss and confusion until later.
I know now that I was depressed. I am certain I was also struggling with a post traumatic stress that I didn’t know I had, brought on by months of pain and suffering, a near death experience I should not have survived, my mother’s cancer, and an unbelievably quick succession of people I allowed to hurt me (though they may take the blame for their own selfish actions.) I found that I had become devastatingly emotionally unstable for a number of weeks after Jacob McAdoo. Even though I wasn’t in love with him, and I wasn’t even happy with him, our split forced me into an uncomfortable but necessary place where I had nothing left.
In the rubble of my misery, I clung to the man on the east coast and realized, with everything cleared out of the way after a hard prairie burn, that there was only one. The entire time — my entire life. Every failed relationship. Every heartache I suffered. Every year that passed and left me wondering what was so wrong with me that I couldn’t have love.
I know now.
He brought me back from the edge of my despair, and after I had begun to heal, he told me what I couldn’t have known.
That first time that he saw me, he knew. He knew she was the one.
My name is Amy, and this is Joseph.
That is the truth.