My stalker has returned. Maybe “stalker” isn’t the right word. He’s not outside my door every night; he doesn’t call me at weird hours; I’ve never felt unsafe. But I haven’t been able to electronically get away from the first man I ever slept with. He has found me wherever I go, under whatever email address I claim, in whatever city I’m living, on whatever job I’m working.

I am trying to remember a time when I was free from him. It seems I made it through grad school and then some without hearing from him. I didn’t miss him, nor did I reach out to him. But at some point in the past few years, the emails began. I don’t remember when exactly, but since 9/2003, not a month has gone by where I haven’t heard from him.

The emails are a constant knock on the door: “I hope I can find you in April when I visit.” Or “I’ll be at the Festival of Books if you want to stop by.” Or, psychic flashes: “Were you at or in a wedding this weekend?” “Had a bad feeling. Is everything OK?”

I don’t respond to the emails. That’s not entirely true; he was writing a book a few years back and floated the idea of writing together. I was out of work and it sounded like a good opportunity – at least, that’s what my bank account said before my head took over. So the emails stopped for a while. Whenever they started back up, I didn’t respond. I didn’t open the emails at first, and then, when they kept coming, I put him on the “blocked sender list.” He could tell, somehow through the wonders of AOL, that I wasn’t opening his emails. So he figured a way around that by communicating in the subject line of an email. Clever, because you can’t not read the subject line. A typical email from him now is actually 5 emails looking something like this – first email subject line: “Hey, Wend.” Second email subject line: “An Easter Fortune Cookie: May you…” Third email subject line: “Have an egg roll and an eggroll.”

Totally benign. And I guess it shouldn’t bother me. But it does. Deeply, because he seems to know my every move. He even knows when I move – he found my new address in LA somehow. He’s stood outside my home in NYC. Sometimes he went beyond email, occasionally sending gifts and postcards to my house when I wasn’t opening his emails. I’ve got boxes in my garage he’s sent that I haven’t opened, which I’m not sure if he knows or not; there’s no “auto check” on snail mail. At least the physical contact seems to have stopped. For now.

His reaching out to me cascades with his own relationships; I knew he had met someone when his emails had stopped for a while.

Then, he found me on this website, which I guess I should’ve expected since I write under my own name here. But somehow, while I know TGW is not private, it mostly feels like it is. That’s what was so great about Farrell’s post last week. But in the past few days since my stalker’s found me, I’ve received 27 emails from him. I have changed my email address once and am dreading having to do it again. And I guess, I guess I should start writing under a pseudonym. But even then, I’m sure he’d find me.

I feel guilty that I don’t respond to him. I feel guilty because it’s rude (what a girl-feeling!), and because I did love him and he was incredibly important in my life and maybe I’m handling this all wrong. Maybe if I were more conversational, we would have normal ebb and flow, a holiday-how-are-you relationship. Some contact might mollify him – is that what he wants from me? What does he want? I’ve always been afraid that he would want more than just a little contact.

I’ve always been a little afraid. Not that he would hurt me, at all, but because he has indicated he might show up where I work. Or home. The emails I can live with; it’s his insistent urge to meet up that bothers me the most. What’s to stop him next time from coming to my house? Whenever I go home to Albuquerque, I avoid bookstores and cafes – places I love – on the odd chance I would run into him. I’m speaking at a conference in Austin in the fall and he asked how it would be if he came. That email I actually responded to – and said, please please don’t – I’m looking forward to a great weekend with friends and don’t want to have to confront him or any issues in the past that, because of him, won’t stay past. Will he show? I’ll spend the weekend wondering, keeping my eyes to the ground.

This man has not seriously disrupted my life; a “disrupted life” is the textbook/penal code definition of stalking. I’m hardly the next Rebecca Schaeffer. But feeling like he’s got a lojack on me at all times has given me a constant low-grade ill-at-ease-ness. I’m almost used to it now and wonder if I would miss the attention. I don’t think so. But I doubt I’ll ever know.

11 responses to “Found”

  1. Stephanie Wells says:

    Why ON EARTH is this post not password protected? It’s probably already too late–it’s been up for three minutes and I’m sure he’s read it.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Well, maybe it was meant to be read by this person…?

  3. pia arten says:

    I’m really enjoying the fact that Scott’s post, which follows this one, begins with the words “Please read me…”

  4. Stephanie Wells says:

    Not to mention that it’s about found poetry. It’s definitely an interesting juxtaposition.

  5. ok. the fortune cookie thing really creeped me out. religious holidays, cyberstalking, and chinese takeout just should not be mixed. under any circumstances.

    have you ever said straight up, “i’d like you not to contact me anymore”?

  6. trixie says:

    she kinda did with this post.
    how about it guy? wanna give the lady a break?

  7. farrell says:

    we’ll put a knife in your dick. lay off.

  8. Dave says:

    That’s a horribly annoying situation, Wendy. I hope the guy reads this and goes away. I’ve had a much less serious, puppy-dog kind of thing happen to me before and it was not fun.

    To the stalker: Dude, you can see she’s just not into you, right? So why stick around?

  9. Stella says:

    All power to you for sharing this. When someone is disempowering you, it’s important to reclaim authority.

    Faced with different kinds of male intrusions in DC (there’s always an outbreak of public masturbators in the summer and they’re always outside the house) I feel compelled to yell or turn the hosepipe on them. I know it’s safer not to react, but at some point you have to take control.

  10. WW says:

    Thanks, as always, for the support. In a way, I’m glad this isn’t password protected — I’d like to live a password-free life, if that’s possible. We’ll see if anything changes.

  11. […] Farrell Fawcett, #7 on “Found” Missy, #76 on “My left hand” Bryan Waterman #35 on “The church of manlove”  […]