on january first, i went through my friends list just to get an idea of all the places and people i had committed to seeing. i was puzzled by a few friends. claudia was one of them. she seldom showed up in the status updates and when she did, she wrote mostly in german–which i can’t understand. we had two mutual friends — f2fb friend #140 ben gonzalez and #150 branden blinn. ben and branden both had no idea how they were friends with claudia–i had accepted her friendship request on the basis of those relationships and to find out that they didn’t even know her was quite unsettling. i messaged her, explaining the project and gently probed as to where she was and what our connection was. i received no response. i did this several times. i was prepared to write her off as i received no replies.
ben was sure that claudia was just being shy. he instant messaged her. explained the project. and claudia declared that she “was uncomfortable meeting people” especially ones she doesn’t know. she was just as baffled as to why i was her friend as i was about why she was my friend. she wrote to ben that her english was not good enough for her to feel comfortable meeting an american. i communicated through ben that this was no impediment to friendship.
over the course of several sessions of instant messaging, ben was persuasive. she agreed to see me in her home town of dortmund, germany. but only on a tuesday because she got off work early on tuesdays. that could fit quite nicely into the jigsaw puzzle of my trip around the world since i needed to be in dubai on either a friday or saturday to see f2fb friend #246 cecilia gigiolio. claudia would meet me at the dortmund hbf rail station around seven o’clock on november first. i reconfirmed with a message just before i bought my international tickets. claudia responded that she was looking forward to meeting me. i booked a flight from rome to dusseldorf, with a two hour layover in vienna, and studied the train schedules to find the one hour train ride that would put me into dortmund around seven.
the night before i was to meet claudia, i jumped on facebook to message her a reminder of our meeting. i discovered she had defriended me. and blocked me.
i had a seat on a plane to luten, england from dortmund’s airport. it was too late and too expensive to do anything else but head out from rome the next morning.
i waited, on the offchance that she would show up. i even found myself looking at other people on the train platform, thinking someone would tap my shoulder and say “sie mussen arlynn werden”. . .
in the end, i had to take this as a loss. no claudia. no facebook meeting. and no real purpose to being in dortmund. except, of course, that the borussian soccer team was hosting greece for a match that would serve as an allegory for the problems of the european union.
still, i sympathize with claudia. i figure she felt overwhelmed. didn’t know how to say no. or nein. and then maybe panicked at the last minute. she dealt with the matter in a way that facebook facilitates very nicely: if you are defriended by someone, you don’t get a sad face amongst your notifications. you just have to find out on your own. and because claudia blocked me, i can’t even message her that i’m sorry this didn’t work out.
still, travel requires flexibility. there was dortmund. they had a laundromat. i really needed to visit that because joseph and i have been living out of my carhartt utility bag and a backpack. and there was the dortmund hansmarket. i tried my hand at roulette. . .
and i came across dortmund’s pride–the world’s largest christmas tree–being assembled in the city square. the tree reminded me that there’s only two months left for me to make my goal of meeting all those who were my facebook friends on january 1, 2011. if i pout, or feel down, because i have failed in one aspect of my resolution, i won’t have the nerve to succeed at what is still possible. so i splurged and took a cab to dortmund’s airport. and aimed for england and the last two facebook friends on this overseas adventure.