We met on a message board. Said message board existed solely to celebrate the existence of a semi-obscure band; we were but two of six people who regularly felt the need to declare their love of Quasi (the semi-obscure band in question) to the digital void. He could have been anyone. Hell, he could have been guidedbyboognish. That was one of the six. But he was "mrraymondprice." Mrraymondprice was the username of my future ex-husband.
If you knew his name and tried to find him, you'd find nothing. According to the internet, he doesn't exist. It's as if I married a ghost. It makes no sense, his erasure from the web. He certainly was active on it when we were together, using it to moderate a White Stripes message board, jerk off to pornography, and cyber-fuck his exes while I was at work.
I resent the fact that I don't get the opportunity to stalk him like everyone else with a grudge and a Wi-Fi connection. As a writer and comedian, I don't have the luxury of disappearing. Why did he disappear? What does he have to hide? Years after we said our goodbyes, what does he think I could possibly do to harm him? To these questions, I have no answers. But what the fuck do I know? I only married the guy, for Christ's sake.
I wish I could say it was the first time I had met a romantic partner online. Were I to say that, however, I would be lying. And, dear reader, I would never lie to you. Although I would, and have, lied to myself. It's what kept me married to him for two years.
When we virtually met, I was living with another man I had found on the internet—on fucking MySpace, no less. Profoundly unhappy and stuck in a post–Katrina New Orleans with a guy who could kindly be described as sociopathic, I actively sought a way out of my predicament. Instead of extricating myself from the situation via introspection and—perish the thought—effort, I merely jumped to my next beau, a hirsute Australian with a skin condition. The jumping was something I had been doing the entirety of my adult life.
Introspection, it turns out, is hard. Effort? Even harder. Y'know what's effortless, though? Falling in "love"! After all, if you refuse to acknowledge it (and by "it," I mean, "your definition of personhood") ain't broke, why fix it? I moved to Australia posthaste.
We lived together in a fetid Sydney studio so small that when you sat on the toilet, you could touch the stove. Things started off nice, as love is wont to make them. When love quickly waned, as it is also wont to do, they weren't. I took to crying in the park next door while listening to Fiona Apple on the Discman I felt the need to cart across an ocean. It was my only escape.
I had made yet another mistake in a life that, to that point, was riddled with mistakes. I was alone in a country where people referred to breakfast as "brekkie." The only people I spoke to on a regular basis were my boyfriend and his teenage sisters (who, in their defense, were wonderful human beings who played in a rock band cheekily named after a race riot). He had no non-digital friends. Why did he have no friends? I had an excuse; I wasn't in my homeland. What was his? I tried not to think about it.
My mother sent me a letter during my nine-month tenure in Australia. In it, she declared I had made too many mistakes, relied on her too much in my adulthood, and that, were this to be yet another in a series of seemingly endless fuckups, I could not come back home again and start over. She was done facilitating my arrested development. I took this letter, naturally, as fodder to prove to her that I was done making mistakes. I bullishly stayed in Australia, and with him, until my visa expired.
Once I left, I moved to Los Angeles, the city I'd wanted to live in my entire life yet had thus far avoided. Alone in a West Hollywood sublet, I felt reborn: a phoenix that had risen from the ashes of fuckups. Despite my liberation, my mother's note still nagged at me; thinking I had something to prove to my family, I foolishly invited my soon-to-be ex-husband to the non-socialist paradise that is the United States.
We moved to another studio apartment, which had a sofa bed we used both as a sofa and a bed. In our covered courtyard, where vacuous darkness cloaked the room regardless of the time of day, we resented each other. When his visa ran out, he should have gone home. Instead, I married him. I couldn't admit to making another mistake, after all! And besides, I was marrying a member of the Coalition of the Willing. Surely an immigration official would look at him, acknowledge the color of his skin, and let him live here unfettered for the rest of his life, right?
We were married at the Ventura courthouse, as one of the infinitesimal handful of people I knew at the time could act as the witness there. The Justice of the Peace was visibly upset by how flippantly I took the ceremony, sucking on a lollipop in cowboy boots and pigtails while reading my stock lines. Afterward, we went to a Mexican restaurant where an episode of Roseanne guest-starring Martin Mull played overhead as we ate flavorless salsa. I didn't get an entree because I was still nursing an eating disorder. We went home afterward and, presumably, argued. Maybe we fucked. I can't recall. If we did, we surely argued afterward. There was no honeymoon.
Then came the fun part—the endless paperwork and thousands of dollars thrown into the hole that is the US government, asking them to legally recognize him as one of their own. It turns out marrying anyone from another country, regardless of how willing said country may be, is a gauntlet. It was long. It was stressful. I resented every minute of it. Since he was unable to work due to his citizenship status, the onus was on me to bring home the bacon. I worked in a video store and racked up student loan debt. After all, I couldn't look my mother or my grandmother in the eye and tell them I had failed again!
By the time he had gotten his citizenship and I was thoroughly in the red, we had started to reconsider our union. We stayed married for another three years, but for most of that time, I was living elsewhere. He made no effort to contact me or repair our relationship. We moved on from each other, but not before he robbed me of half a decade of my life. Once again, I was on my own. Not only was my family not upset—they informed me they had never liked him in the first place.
He's currently somewhere far from Los Angeles living with a girl he both cyber- and IRL- fucked while we were together. I'm still here in LA, no longer wondering what went wrong but secure with the knowledge that nothing will go that wrong again.
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