Sunday, August 23, 2009

Texting - Wherein an Old Dog Learns a New Trick



Recently, I've started dating someone who is significantly younger than me (by twelve years), and I've never done that before.

The reason why I've never done that before is because I've never really connected well with most within that age bracket - my problems with work and career, kid, family, house, knocking-off debt, and so on just seem so totally removed from the concerns of the "twenty-something". So, conversationally, I thought there'd be this big-ass gap of experience that would leave the two of us staring at each other wondering what the heck to say for, like, endless hours over coffee or something. Ich, scary! Especially for an extrovert like me - brain narrative in a squeaky tone: "Like OMG! What do I say? What do I say?!"

Well, luckily, generalizations being what they are, there's likely to be an exception somewhere and I it just so happened that I met one of them last month. She's mature in her perspectives on things, is ambitious, gorgeous (of course), and usually dates older guys. Right on. One thing, though, that I'm trying to acclimate to, is texting.

Probably like most her age, she's, like, really comfortable with texting - as in she texts almost as a principal means of communication. Don't get me wrong: it's great to randomly hear from her during the day and night and that's a really cool thing about our relationship, and there's nothing wrong with that, but man - texting is an awkward form of communication.

It's like we have this phone-thing that allows us to communicate voice wirelessly from anywhere, I mean, we can "talk" any time, yet then we purposefully revert to telegrams of small words, phrases, and disjointed thoughts, or at best it's like teletyping and using Morse Code. The acronyms, the lingo, the emoticons - it's a whole new vocabulary - and I think my thumb and index fingers have carpel tunnel. And hell, I'm lucky I purchased the "unlimited" text package with the phone - I think we've racked up more than 500 of these things, and, somehow, I think we're just getting started.

Text has its cool parts. One, it's asynchronous: it can be sent, viewed, and responded to whenever either of our schedules allow for it. That means she can send me a thought and I can continue that thought two hours later. Two, it's convenient. Three, it keeps this perpetual dialog going so it feels like we're "close by" when we're not around each other. When blended with email and sending pics, it's oddly comforting, like, the phone is an instrument of "presence" more than just a communication device.

But, yeah, it has its drawbacks. First of all, I've developed this Pavlov-like response to my damn phone. It blurps and whirls and I'm curious. Hmm! I wonder what she has to say; I have to check it. It's a huge compulsion. Second, in the context of poly, having that salivating-like response isn't all that swell: I may be with my PF-sweetie and I really shouldn't be looking at my phone. Again, thinking of it being more of a "presence", when the phone twitters an announcement of a text message it's like my other friend just walked into the room. Graciously (and I am so fortunate to have such a kind and understanding primary), PF may encourage me to respond, or, knowing better (or she gives me one of those knowing "If you look at that right now, you will bleed" kind of looks) or because we're on a date, I just put the phone away and smile. Three, I'm really conscious about appearing like a teenager: if I'm not careful, I could find myself sitting at a dinner table and ignoring the people around me to diddle with the phone (I might as well put a baseball cap on my head sideways, wear my jeans at my knees, grow a soul patch and put some ear buds in to complete the experience.)

Fundamentally, it's just amazing to me how text is used by her "generation" and how I've had to adapt to using it. It just seems so much simpler when I say, "Hey - I'm online right now - why don't we chat?", or, "Heck, call me voice" (grin, that expression was foreign to her, that was funny: "Voice? Call you 'voice'?" - Ahem). Indirectly, though, it's an interesting sensation of "presence" - I always feel she's close by and instantly available in some way, which is really interesting in the context of poly since time and distance, and that "presence", plays such a huge role in the interconnectedness we might feel when our schedules take us elsewhere.

Well, awkward as it is, I feel like I've gotten to know her pretty well in 500+ posts of 150 characters or less, and those bursts of conversation do augment our "live" or voice discussions. I "feel" her around at times. It's a different sensation of the excitement you feel when you anticipate somebody calling or you get to see them on a date, it's like that sense is perpetual, it's constant, and it's a terrific "high". Anyway, what an awesome adventure so far... L8R.

s1m0n
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