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I have had an email pal since February 2014. We met, by chance, on a forum for camgirls, porn performers, and other types of "internet sex workers." I wrote a short reply to her forum post but then I could not help but private message her a barrage of more unsolicited and personal advice, because I saw myself so clearly in her (except that I have never done porn).
Our dialogue soon transitioned from private messenger to email, because complex thoughts, to be well phrased and clear, need paragraphs to communicate.
In the past four years, we’ve exchanged emails of at least four to six paragraphs, often times many more, at least once a week. In 2014 it was about the relationships that weren't quite perfect and how long do you try, the challenges of balancing mainstream freelance work with more lucrative webcamming and online adult work (and double life angst!).... I emailed A in June 2015 with the intimate details of my ex boyfriend’s dad dying and feeling like a necessary outsider, my secret opinion of why his business failed later in 2015… I wrote to A about my deep self doubt in early 2016 when I decided to make drastic changes in my life that included leaving that five and a half year relationship, quitting web-camming (and all online adult work) for good, reinventing myself professionally, closing my small retail business, and stopping all freelance and "gig" work of any kind.
We’ve confided in eachother at length over our breakups, career decisions, analysis of weird people in each others lives, and generally bouncing situations off eachother through uninterrupted paragraphs of details that too often get missed in verbal conversation or text.
Within those details is also a clipping of other side stories and digressions. Emails, like essays, have beginnings and ends. When describing an eventful two days, a phone call with an elderly friend might get left out, only to be referenced three emails later after I've driven that elderly friend to the hospital and spent the night there since it ended up being a serious bladder infection.
Discussion of adult work often creeps in, because it's a part of my now-past that absolutely zero of my friends can relate to (I have the privilege of being able to be fairly open about the fact that I've done adult work—especially since it's so rapidly in the further distant past); and it's a part of my penpal's current life that she cannot talk about at all to anyone. We have almost totally opposite attitudes towards adult work in general, and her differences inspire me to communicate my thoughts more clearly. I try to understand her enjoyment of being a professional "amateur" porn performer (something that I never had the remotest desire to try), and I imagine that I similarly challenge her when digressing into a story about the time I made a video of Pop Rocks candy popping on my tongue (and that was it, nothing I couldn't post on FaceBook).
We exchanged maybe one or two photos early on. A lives in the endless suburbs of a big city that I’ve not had the occasion to visit, and she is similarly disinclined to visit me in my smaller midwestern town. We sometimes fantasize about the mischief we’d get into if we lived in the same city, or what would happen if we were even within driving distance of eachother.
Talking on the phone has never been broached as a possibility. We are quite happy for now, as we have been for the past five years, spending an hour or two each week writing each other lengthy emails.