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"Growing Up"

The last week or so has been tough on me, what with the advent of Thanksgiving. After a long semester of school, during which the interest levels of the courses go from fascinating to completely sedative, as the subject matter gets more and more complex, you begin to get tired and worn down by the routine. Everything becomes more of a tedious, boring chore than anything else.

And by this Thanksgiving, I was drained. I think what kept me going were my online projects and hobbies, but mainly Anna. Sweet Anna, the woman who provides so much strength for me, even from thousands of miles away. That fact alone, that she is so far away, drains me too.

Do you know what it's like to be in love with someone from another country? It's not culture or time difference or technology that are the main nuisances and annoyances. The main problem is not being able to use any of your senses on your significant other. I cannot touch, taste, smell, hear, or see my Anna.

And she is a delight to do so upon...

People in most relationships take it for granted that they can pick up the phone and casually make a local call, or go into the kitchen to see their sweethearts. Hell, some people don't even do THAT. They begin to assume their spouse will always be there and they stop surprising each other with gifts and special moments. I will not sit here and rant about how bad it is to take life and other people for granted, like that didactic Bacon movie, "Murder in the First." I think that comfort and satisfaction and taking things for granted are healthy, to a point, and, in some cases, desirable. Is it a lack of love or interest which keeps a man from getting flowers for his wife on any ordinary day? It can be, but it doesn't have to be. Perhaps he's just become accustomed to her. Could he be a better husband by doing the extra little things? Definitely. That's what should be fixed when taking someone for granted. Just do the little things. These little things, to those in long-distance relationships, actually become very large things, symbolic things, since the comfort of having one's lover so close is not there. Everything becomes vital. Having a relationship online teaches you how important everything is, how nothing should be wasted or passed over. It opens your eyes to the world of relationships.

So I've become more and more anxious, more exhausted, and more saddened over the months since I last saw Anna. It started off as a longing, one of the lack of having physical familiarity, tasting just a little bit and wanting more. But Anna and I have become even closer in heart and mind than we did before, in these few short months. We think even more alike now and know each other's moods and feelings even better now. We're developing that unspoken understanding that couples who are truly in love possess. It can be said that true lovers need not ever use words to communicate. Anna and I understand each other quite keenly, even through pure text. We just know. My physical world, however, still consisted not of Anna, but of required textbooks, Latin subjunctives, and endless spam e-mails. It confuses my body and mind. Shouldn't it have what it endlessly thinks about? Shouldn't it have its Anna?

It really gets to you, you know? Starts off small and then grows to something near unbearable. It is a misery I'd never known existed before I fell in love. I built my world around a non-physical realm in which I wouldn't have to physically be a part of, not even with family. I just didn't like being around other people. For the most part, I still don't, and I can't STAND other people, whether it's because they're incompetent, boring, too strange, too materialistic, or whatever.

Anna proves to be the exception. I require her presence. She is the only one I want to be close to and touch. Some people are physical with friends and family. I think some friends I've known for a long time I've never even touched. There's no in between for me. I'm either all over someone or I don't touch them at all. Anna is the sole member of the former classification. I'm sure a psychologist could make a fortune solely off my Soapboxes. Something happened in my childhood, he'd say. Umm, no. I just learned very early that trust is one of the most important things in the world, as are privacy and security. It takes a lot of trust for me before I dare touch someone, before I cross the boundary safely into permission. That sort of thing should not be an uncomfortable event. Because I think this way, friends and acquaintances feel safer around me -- they know I never place them in awkward situations like other people do. Gentle Ben. I keep my hands to myself.

If I were to be asked what the biggest and most defining moment in the history of my site was, I would say it was when I posted the Soapbox entitled "Indulgence." It was nothing before then. Up until that 'Box, the site, in its purest and most basic form, was just a physical incarnation of curiosity. I started my site because I wanted to learn how to do THIS, the Web. I did it because it offered something I'd never seen before. It let anyone post their views. Sure, at first, we all expected to be seen by millions, since there weren't many pages at all back then and we were told we'd have HUGE, willing audiences. You think the hype machine wasn't churning even back then? We weren't told by magazines and TV that the Web meant an instant audience. No, it was the people of respect and dignity telling us that, before they themselves realized how wrong they were to say so. Now, of course, it's commonly known that you better do a Hell of a job if you're going to get noticed. Another reason I like it. The personal competition. You also need to hobnob with the Web elite to get the hits. But I digress.

I'm aware that this Soapbox seems very disjointed and hard to read. It diverges from the main idea at times. It doesn't always explain itself. I jump from point to point without developing them completely. I know it's hard to read. I know it's not great writing. But you try to write down your predictions of one of the biggest events in your life and see just how eloquent you come off in it, on the first few tries. Cut me some slack.

I was curious about where the Web would go. One of the best papers I wrote, I'm told, was a request for a PPP account from my parents. I was inspired by the Web and wanted to get in on it. At the time, I wasn't interested in personal development. I was just curious. Computer geekitude shyly showing its countenance? What sorts of things in your life have inspired you as much as the Internet did me?

Shortly afterward, as I went about planning how I would produce an amazing site (I guess I failed), I came up with an idea -- I would write weekly about a different topic which bothered me. At first, my scrawls were extremely brief and impersonal. More like objective journalistic accounts of the day's events. But as I grew up and thought about things more, my Soapboxes became more complex, more lengthy, and most importantly, more personal. It took me awhile to define what it was that I wanted to have, ultimately, but I did it. I wanted a true love. I needed just one woman to share my life with. I felt alone and I felt that no one deserved to be subjected to my problems. I didn't have someone I could closely identify with. I suppose the site was, crudely, about getting noticed. I needed some signal that what I was doing was worthwhile, valuable, and just right. I had no idea at the time. I expressed myself and no one was there to observe.

I think a lot of things made themselves desirable to me, like work and specialization in certain fields, but that wasn't what I needed. I knew I needed a female human being, a woman, someone who wouldn't be just another person I couldn't be close with, a distant person I wouldn't feel comfortable touching. I question those who believe they could have made it through life without at least one other person to help them and to validate their existence. You cannot be human if you've never sought strength in another. I was foolish enough to think that way, for awhile. I thought I could live alone. It almost numbed me, thinking about being alone. I almost turned into one of those people who have no passion for absolutely anything. Talk to them for an hour and you are left with no idea what their goals are or why they want to live. If I were numbed to other people, it would have seeped into everything I was doing. I probably would have stopped writing for lack of inspiration, for Christ's sake.

But then Anna and I started talking. She fell in love with me partly through my site. As we talked, we knew it was going to lead to love. Didn't know the details of our relationship yet, but it was meant to be.

Anna was and is my personal validation. She gave me strength to continue my work and passion to make that work more like fun or personal improvement than a chore. Anna is exactly what I need. This woman is simply unbelievable (irresistible). She helped make me. She helped create the concept of Ben Turner. She is the one who I can be close to, who I can tell everything to, who will back me as I further develop into an independent, responsible adult. One of the best things about Anna is that this is my first relationship. I knew I'd find perfection if I was patient.

Where am I planning to go with this 'Box? Well, back to present day. In less than three weeks now, I will be with Anna again. No Internet, no phones, no nothing. Just us, together. Able to use our five senses (of course, as she is a woman, she probably has a sixth). I will be spending Christmas and New Year's Eve with my one true love. And it will be a monumental event in my life. Perhaps the most important event in the life of Ben Turner. Why? Because, for the first time in my life, a holiday will mean more than just spending time with the family. It will mean learning about a new culture, meeting my girlfriend's parents again, and living with my woman for a long period of time. All during what I consider one of the few truly special holiday periods. This is extremely important for me.

For the first time, I'm shopping for someone I am in love with. Again, seems silly to most readers. But do you remember the first time you spent Christmas with your loved girlfriend or boyfriend? Or did you not even think about it at all, as I'd suspect? These moments in our lives are so special and few are clever and observant enough to notice them.

I used to think relationships were cheesy, particularly those in movies. But I don't anymore. I know what feeling is being attempted to be illustrated. I know how love feels now and I can feel its immortality and power surging through me. I am living a relationship many can only dream for. Two young people, deeply in love, finally united at Christmas after being unjustly kept apart. This is a blockbuster production, folks. And damn, does it feel good.

So you can see what I am going through now. I am exhausted, but I'm going to make it through and come out much stronger. In the loving arms of Anna will I recuperate.

It'll be fun collecting symbolic gestures of my love for Anna. It's a completely new experience. I feel so alive now. I feel like all I've done hasn't been for naught. Life means something, both in the work I've done and in what Anna has given me. I feel validated. Thank you, Anna, for giving me your everything and for helping me, and us, grow and thrive in a world we are very familiar with and in tune to. I love you, and I await Christmas even more impatiently now as it approaches, like a cold, fierce blizzard.

It's about time I grew up, don't you think? And at least I'm smart enough to notice it. And, of course, document it.

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