One of the main reasons I like being in a relationship is that I get a lot of good company. The same applies to spending time with friends and talking to people on the internet - and, to an extent, the more pastoral aspects of my job.
Okay, nothing new there. I'm pretty sure that applies to everybody. Well, nearly everybody. I have met some people who don't like talking to other people, but they're mostly wildly antisocial, sociopaths or rugby players.
Again, no change there, really.
Back when I was younger, less seasoned, less grizzled and with no hope in Hell of getting close to anything that resembled a relationship, I had to enjoy company in a different way. I didn't have many friends at university - well, that's a lie; I had a few, but I didn't see them outside of lectures and seminars. There was a rather protracted period in my second and third years where I barely saw anyone not university-related (or, at four points in the year, Woodcraft-related; that was, of course, the exception).
In terms of what I did for social interaction, it was almost entirely based on the Internet - and, to narrow that down a little, mostly focused around IRC, what was then still called MSN (before Windows Live!, even, never mind the Skype takeover) and a community I was part of on LiveJournal. With the decline of LiveJournal, this community fizzled, which was a great shame - I still consider myself a part of it in some ways - and the appeal of IRC, which was still there for years afterwards (and still is now; I use it occasionally!), seemed to wane, particularly towards the end of my first three years at university (remember, gentle readers, that I have been through higher education four times, of course).
I had no ILB back then. I was ILB, but I had no blog, no Twitter, no sexual-name-of-power and none of this current malarkey back in the Ancyent Tyme of 2005. But I could still talk, and I had contacts. People to talk to. One or two, in particular. By which I mean one.
If Glamour Girl ever reads this, she may recall our times spent chatting casually over what was still called MSN in the first few months of 2008. She kept me company, for want of a better phrase, for hours. In a similar manner, at around the time this was happening (or thereabouts), Rebecca put me into contact with someone who she thought I might enjoy talking to. I'm not entirely sure why, exactly, but as most of Rebecca's friends seemed to have liked me while we were still together (some of them still do, actually!), she thought this one would too.
She was right. This girl did like me. I liked her, too.
I know how that sounds. It didn't go that far. It didn't go far at all. But, for some reason - without trying to ascribe this to my natural charm, it was probably my natural charm - she shared a lot with me. A lot, that is, including both her views on and a link to the Paris Hilton sex tape (she really liked it; I got bored after a few minutes and started playing Fire Emblem instead), her unhappy relationship with her boyfriend (and this is a boy I didn't like either, for entirely separate reasons) and her youthful lust for, it seemed, the entire population of western Europe, including the guy who owned the flower shop, the man doing the roadworks opposite her house and some bloke I bumped into in the mess the other day called Bernard.
Or similar. You get the idea.
This girl was very highly sexual. Or so she claimed. It certainly seemed so. Every remedy for maladies ranging from a flu-like illness to severe depression that she suggested amounted to something like "have sex, that will help" *roguish wink smiley*, and every time I attempted to patiently explain that I hadn't had sex for years and probably wasn't going to get any any time soon, she often replied with, "well, if you were here..." *roguish wink smiley*. However you may feel about these suggestions, one does have to admire her joie de vivre.
I was reminded of her the other day when I signed into Skype for one of the few times I've deigned to use that program, and suddenly chanced across her name right at the top of my list (it had two stars enclosing it, both offering an explanation as to why she was at the top and what sort of a person she was). I'd almost forgotten about her. I'd certainly forgotten that her screen-name contained the word "kinky" before I knew exactly what "kinky" meant.
I wonder what happened to her. This was, after all, the first actually flirty friendship I'd ever had with anyone online. She was fun, made me laugh, had a genuinely interesting life, and - above all - kept me company. Particularly in that big house I had all to myself and never seemed to really use.
I sent her an e-mail. I didn't get a response, but the likelihood is that she's abandoned her Hotmail (I still use mine, because I'm hardcore), or just doesn't check any more. Or that she didn't recognise my name and deleted it. Anything is possible. But, you know, just once I'd like to catch up with the people who shaped my younger years (even in any small way), and thank them for keeping me company during my sexual development (amidst all the work I was supposed to have been doing).
Now excuse me while I go and attack-hug my girlfriend.