this is the thing you do not know.
it lives, it sleeps, it plods through the snow.
but sometimes life sends us a spark.
through characters 140, there comes an arc.
you might not see it.
you may be snoozing.
but keep an eye out for it,
and you’ll never be losing.
During the year of 2013, I became aware of the existence of one Dylan. He came across to me online as funny and unafraid. I liked that, so I followed him. To my delight, he followed me back. A simple thing, yes, but one that would create a moment that’ll live with me forever.
It’s a good thing I did. I have many stories like this – where people have sprung from the screen and into the reality of my life. Heck, that’s how I know most of the people who know form a centrifugal force in my life. Some of them stick, some of them go – it’s the way of life, and friendships.
But this one has stuck. Why? Because some time in late December 2013, I noticed he tweeted lyrics of an obscure Alanis Morissette song, and that was when I slid into his DMs like a clammy-handed fan.
Soon thereafter ensued a day of emails that happened on Boxing Day – traditionally now the quietest day of my whole year, as my kid goes off to spend time with the other end of her family, and everyone else is rolling around in a food-induced daze. It was only fitting that I spend it in front of my computer, exploring a quiet world. But this day wasn’t still – it was heady and explorative, as I pummelled his inbox with my secret treasure finds of B-side Alanis tunes, and he pummelled back.
Since then though, it’s grown, as his art has grown. Dylan is an artist, but not of the conventional kind. He writes stories differently. I’ll regularly share his creations online, but I very often set them aside when he’s posted them, and wait until I have a working weekend lined up. That’s when it’s headphones on and, for all intents and purposes, I indulge in Dylan’s art while I do the work assigned to me, or that which I’ve assigned to myself. At one point, Dylan was my accompaniment on my runs – keeping me focused as I pounded the pavements. When I go grocery shopping, I pop my earphones in and he keeps me company then too. When I clean the house, those earphones go back in and I am mopping a floor while listening to a marvellous tune. Through the hard tasks and mundanities of life, I lean on his mashup tunes and kaleidoscopic magic.
He provides a soundtrack to the world that speaks to many aspects of my own life course, and we’ll giggle into our phones when we happen to reference similar things simultaneously. He will posit a point that’s been swarming my head for a while, and say it far more eloquently than I could. Or anyone could, really. He asks the hard questions, and outlines solutions that are sometimes the ones we don’t like to think about. He faces facts, and then puts them down into little lines of sound.
When people tell me that an online life is bad, I agree with them, on occasion. But for me, as I step back from a lot of the way I used to do things (read: live more life offline than I used to, that’s why it’s so quiet around here), I realise and remember that it remains a conduit. It’s just one conduit, but an important one nonetheless. Through it, I am able to discover and enjoy the finest minds (and sometimes the most awful ones too, but this isn’t about that). That’s how I discover artists like Dylan, and usher them into my world. The world of my head and this great big life we all share.
He knows me incredibly well, because we share a frame of reference that isn’t hindered by social pressures or niceties. He can call me on something, and it was it is. And while I may know him through lines of code and over-the-air waves, I probably know the trueness of him better than I would if I’d happened upon him at a party. He is an artist and a friend – someone who sits on my 2am call list. He would respond, too.
Here’s the thing though.
We’ve never actually met.