i posted about my stalker a few days ago. william is a facebook friend (well, unfriended now) who became obsessed with me. we are all so easily connected with facebook, email, cell phones, etc. that it’s hard to know the proper distance of friendships. over the course of six months, william pressed so hard that i became frightened and overwhelmed. i became completely unhinged when he suggested that he would quit his job in tallahassee and move to chicago to be near me. this was not a romantic obsession, but rather an obsession of friendship.
i blogged about william because i had reached my breaking point. i had not been posting on facebook because i didn’t want to deal with him. i had not been blogging or even turning on my phone for the same reason. and i had taken to being extra cautious about leaving and returning to my apartment. i thought of going to the police but then i thought i would trust my friends.
in blogging, i was contacted by a number of friends who had been contacted by william. i heard from friends who advised restraining orders, firearms training, mischief, and mayhem. i received many offers of safehouses, bodyguards, and friends who wanted to speak to william. then i heard from william himself.
he posted a comment to my blog. i made a decision to not approve the comment because i want to protect william’s identity–although, to be fair, facebook friends who have been reading my posts can easily figure out who he is and some have already had interactions with him. this is what he had to say:
You are not responsible. This is my fault, and mine alone. I had no idea it was nearly this bad. I wish someone had made it clear to me. You have my word it front of all these witnesses, that you will never hear from me again. And I’m sorry.
i will take him at his word. any suggestions or comments?
the year is coming to a close and i am forced to concede that i will not see all of the 325 facebook friends i had last year at this time when i made the resolution. but i’ve done a lot of interesting things and re/connected with a lot of friends. two of the most interesting episodes occurred yesterday.
f2fb friend #288 jeffrey jon smith is a documentary filmmaker who directed a movie called “the miracle” . . . joseph was in the film and it was shot so many years ago that i’m not sure joseph had facial hair. well, he did but it had to be drawn in. the miracle is about tekki lomnicki, a little person, who wanted a miracle at lourdes when she was much younger. it’s directed in the style of an old-time hollywood movie. the miracle has its own facebook page–the miracle movie–so i could have made the movie my friend. instead, i made the director my friend. we had only met once, at joseph’s audition. jeffrey and i became facebook friends in part because the job of a mom of a young actor is to scope out the project and the people her children work with. is it okay that i replayed the scene with joseph in it a few dozen times?
jeffrey teaches at both columbia college and facets film school in chicago. we talked a lot about what goes into making a movie! for jeffrey the miracle movie required a miracle--in health, finances, and endurance. sort of all the things we hope for a new year!
later when i went home i was visited by a woman who lives in a community near to winnetka. she brought me christmas cookies. she was apologetic that they were “late” christmas cookies but if someone’s going to bake for me, i figure she can bring me christmas cookies in july. but i invited her in and that’s when she told me she was my f2fb friend #289. i had to admit she had been on my list but i had thought she had defriended me. instead, she had deactivated her account because of a stalker ex-husband. in fact, she had become a bit paranoid about all sorts of things–linked in, pta parent rosters, the mail being delivered late or possibly not at all.
but she knew i had this project and she just wanted me to know it was nothing personal. i told her that she would have to share “anonymous” with f2fb friends #88, #228, and #229 who all had their reasons for secrecy.
am i going to have a new year’s miracle in which all the rest of my facebook friends will bring me christmas cookies? luckily, for my waistline, no. there are friends who have moved, friends who’ve become fan pages (elmore leonard was, sigh, once a friend) and there’s even a few friends who aren’t even real people and they seem to get a lot of free iphones and restylane treatments. some friends were friends because we were working together or went to school and now that doesn’t exist. and then there’s this: some of my friends want to keep a facebook friendship just that, a facebook friendship.
“is it time?” i asked at the beginning of every september as the winnetka police department put out the “drive safely, no, really, we mean it this time because the kids are back in school and nobody around here teaches their kids to look both ways” signs.
“no,” eastman would say firmly.
“is it time?” i would ask when winnetka matrons would put winter cabbage and mums in their front porch urns and caribou coffee announced pumpkin lattes and pumpkin mochas and pumpkin tea.
“no,” joseph would say.
“is it time?” i would ask when i ripped the scribbled over september sheet of the family calendar from the refrigerator.
“all right, fine, whatever,” the boys would say.
and i would put up the halloween decorations: skulls hanging from the trees surrounding our house. tenacious spider webs that would cling until the first hard spring rain. a giant spider that had to be blown up and plugged in and held down with tent stakes and it would still roll over into the street. and my costume for the big day? i should use the plural, because i don’t like to limit myself to just one.
but this year, no halloween for me. october has become the month of the final sprint towards a number–325. i made a new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends and i am now, ahem, ready to meet up with the 230th friend tomorrow. i am 70.4% towards my goal, which puts me at 1.4% short of being on target. i’m feeling the pressure. on the other hand, most of my new years resolutions of old–losing weight, giving up drinking, cleaning out every closet in this house–are usually forgotten by february. so missing halloween will be a small sacrifice–i’ll be in dubai when the big day happens and i can assure you i will not be regaling the good citizens of that country with accounts of goblins and ghosts and obama costumes.
at the beginning of the weekend, i saw f2fb friend #227 tom seymour. he was a stage manager who saved a play i was working on. tom often posts lines from movies. the words seem utterly random until you figure out that it’s a movie line and you think “what movie?” and the reptilian part of your brain thinks it through and four hours later, you respond with another quote from the same movie.
he generally works as a property manager and october first means the day that people get their keys and move into the apartments he manages. it took a little persuading to get him to take the evening before the first to see me, but his brother charlie (f2fb friend #20) hosted a dinner party which, oddly enough, was comprised almost exclusively of facebook friends i have already visited with. it was fun to review the year, to catch up with people, to do this in a relaxed manner that a christmas dinner party would not quite allow.
tom is a smoker and he invited me to join him. i realized it’s been a long time since i went out onto the front porch with my son eastman (f2fb friend #1) and smoked a cigarette and made a video and thought “i just have to do this 324 more times and i’ll be a success!”.
the next morning, i met two f2fb friends. they live together. both of them are intensely shy. one of them is dealing with an internet stalker. i have had some experience with stalking and it’s awful. i went to a third friend who is related to both of them. she made a ruling: i would acknowledge that i have met f2fb friends #228 and 229 and i could use a picture i took outside their home. then i realized the picture showed the license plate of their car. because of the stalker, i decided to forego the picture.
three quarters of the way into the year, travel arrangements secure, money tight but i’m holding firm, joseph has agreed to come with me around the world–i have only to battle the ghosts and goblins that every resolve entails: self-doubt, self-loathing, taking the criticisms of friends and strangers to heart, faltering determination. always i have turned to my friends for help. i have no doubts about them. i believe everything can be done so long as one turns to one’s friends for help. i am grateful.