the case for sending in that missed connection

by grantwoods

I was the subject of a @uvmmissedconnection, an anonymous note of love and encouragement from a mystery person in my clase de Español. To them, the newest believer in me, I can’t promise I won’t let you down. You say you are putting your hopes in humanity on me: Don’t! I barely know you. All you knew of me then is fifty minutes of trying not to fall asleep, trapped inside a box on mute, doing my “listening” face and OnlyFansing myself for a participation grade. It’s strange, by the way, to see what I look like when I am listening. I feel a compulsive desire to unmute myself every time I want to say “yup” or “uh-huh.” Anyway, I am amazed that I made such an impression on you as for you to send in to @uvmmissedconnections your yearning. Really, our connection might not be missed. You could’ve been one of the eight other faces I saw that day, waiting to butcher the subjunctive tense. 

I don’t understand how anyone could follow @uvmmissedconnections, just due to the sheer volume alone. The page is a daily barrage of skateboarders and unsuspecting studiers with earrings and trendy fits. It spans the mundane “tall blonde who always has the hiccups shoutout to u” to the vulgar “I should’ve fucked you freshman year” to declarations about society at large “men who don’t believe in the existence of the patriarchy, go fuck yourself.” The majority of the posts are unimportant to most, but all are very important to a select few. Any admission of love is like a leap from a cliff, where the open air fills your chest cavity and for a brief moment, upon submitting the Google Form, you are entirely volant, like a dove filled with pink hearts. If it goes well, the fiery molasses of love occupies your every fiber, if not, the taste in your mouth is like you’ve just eaten an industrial sized bag of sour skittles. Two worthwhile experiences. With @uvmmissedconnections, you can throw your emotions directly into the void and there they float there, sometimes forever, weary and fruitless.

Upon showing my mom the post, she heralded it as an ultimate showing of bravery. “And you do look like Harry Styles,” she said. I shouldn’t have worn that dress to class. I also wasn’t sure how brave it really was. I think back to seventh grade, when I broke up with my first girlfriend over text message. We were lucky enough to be a part of the first generation who could break up over text, as well as the last to be able to break up over Google Chat. I can remember the cracks that began to form in our entanglement. Our classmate, Sam, had given her a more elaborate birthday present than I had (many years later, a mutual friend told me that she liked him more than me, as I had expected, which still hurts). In mid-December, after our first hand hold but before our first kiss, I delivered the news that our relationship would be terminated via a blue bubble. She made an Instagram post that was a screenshot of her listening to Taylor Swift’s 2012 hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” I got the message. 

I have often been bashful and scared in my life. For eighth grade graduation, we took a Greyhound to the Six Flags in Springfield, Mass, and I only did one small rollercoaster. I got a drawing of myself from a sad caricature artist that looked nothing like me, ate cotton candy, and boarded the bus home like a loser. And worse still, my ex from the year prior and Sam held hands the whole way home.

In my life I’ve missed connections. I haven’t seized every opportunity. I waited too long to do drugs in high school (not to say that I ever did them in earnest) and my grades weren’t even very good for someone not doing drugs. Some people were gone before I professed my love or appreciation enough, and I regret the times when I didn’t buck up and say “I love you” more than any time I did say it and it didn’t go exactly to plan. I remember one of the last times I stood in my mom’s partner’s kitchen, and my mom made us two men say those words to each other. We had not before. We mumbled it and hugged meekly because that’s what people, usually men, do sometimes. Now, I feel like I could and should have shouted it from the roof. The void is pretty dope until it’s all there is. 

So I say, if you see a handsome bro with long blonde hair and vans in the Grundle, give him your number or make a joke about how the marinara sauce tastes like blood. He won’t be sitting there forever. When the mysterious barista with the shining gold nose ring hands you your mocha, ask about her day and as she laments, celebrate that you are not on mute with a chorus of whats and no ways. @uvmmissedconnections made more than a dozen other posts over the twenty-four hour period. Imagine the butterflies, the crisp internal wind, that could’ve been created, had those connections just been made. Had just a leap of faith been taken.

Categories: around town, february 22 2021, grant woods

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