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A couple months ago J told me she had finally deleted all her exes off Facebook. I don't know if she was hinting or if it was just some passing comment. It's different, though, she has hundreds of "friends". All her life she's been surrounded by people, even if it was just family. I've had this pattern since i was a child where i would make friends and then we moved and then i started from scratch. Over and over that happened. Each time i almost looked forward to it, i saw it as an opportunity to leave all the pain behind and maybe next time reinvent my life the way i wanted it to be. I did the same thing with my stuff, always purging, never keeping belongings, not letting anything sentimental stay with me, anything that could hold me back. At some point i realized i didn't want that any more.

It was 1999 when it started. I was in Australia and once again riding some wave of wanting to escape everything. I started by locking myself in my room and turning to internet friendships to the exclusion of everything in my "real" life. That worked for a while, but the compulsion to escape just kept getting stronger, it was like i couldn't deal with anything, anyone. I was also terribly paranoid at the time. I decided to change my sex because that seemed like as good a way as any to erase my old life. But something was different because for the first time, even though i completely disappeared on almost everyone, even as i tried to destroy every trace of what went before, a tiny bit of my memory stayed connected to the people who mattered. And even as i let everything slip away i secretly checked in over the next year to see if things were still okay with everyone. Eventually i did get back in contact with a few people and a couple remain in my life today.

But i never really learned the lesson. I know i shouldn't blame my illness (or some other uncontrollable natural impulse) for my continuing distance and need to disappear. It still happens, though. I don't let myself get close to people because i feel like nothing is going to last anyway, and then when i do get close or it does last i ultimately get swept up in another rush of ideas that leads me away, cutting ties all over again. But since 99 i have learned to at least keep a thread of what was before, and i've managed to sustain a few battered friendships in spite of it all. And yeah, those friendships - for whatever they're worth - also include my exes. The group that has stayed with me through the years is very, very small. I can't just delete people any more, not everyone.

I look back now at other people who were important in my life, and i realize how little foresight i had. I've rarely bothered to learn my friends' surnames, learn their phone numbers or addresses by heart, remember any identifying clues. People talk about finding old friends on social networking websites but i wouldn't even know where to start. Probably my closest friend from my high school years (another ex), i don't even know her full name. I never thought to keep those things in my head. When i inevitably left it always became wasted space, you know? Why remember things that aren't necessary? I had to laugh when i was photocopying my passport in case i got mugged in Boston and i played out this scenario in my head of okay i get mugged and i hit the guy back and i get taken in by the cops and they give me a phone call and then the only phone number i know in the US is the one i called almost every day for years. What a sucky call that would be to get. But it's there, it's in my head. Maybe practically it's wasting space but emotionally it means something. It's a little connection, a spark of sentimentality that shows i'm not a robot, i'm not fucking dead. If i had kept more of those little things in my mind over the years maybe i would have more friends now, or at least more contact with people who meant something to me.

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