Dalila Ali Rajah
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Up, the Gmail Way

            Up, the Gmail Way

It all began with
one e-mail.

After I stopped
speaking to my ex, I wanted to send her an anonymous
note. So I opened a Gmail account using what I thought was a
cleverly disguised pseudonym: a portion of my last
name spelled backward. The sole purpose was to send
her this line: “There will always be a pure and
beautiful angel watching over you.”

I was cautious
about making contact with her, since two weeks before I
sent the e-mail I received a threatening letter from her
lawyer telling me never to contact her again. The
lawyer cited two recent occasions when I had left
flowers for her at her doorstep as examples of the type of
contact she didn’t want. She had gotten an attorney
involved just to annoy me -- I had done nothing
legally questionable.

A week later, as
if nothing had happened, we were in the car, on our way
to having yet another
dragging-the-relationship-out-beyond-logic dinner,
because neither one of us had the guts to end the mutually
destructive thing it had become. Suddenly she turned
to me with a big grin and said, “Jenny, I know
everything about what you’ve been up to lately.
Everything. After I got that e-mail from you” -- I
was chagrined to know she had figured it out so easily
-- “I guessed your password and got into your
Gmail account.”

I gulped.

“How’s the Lesbotronic dating service working
for you?” she asked.

My mind careened
as I tried to recall how much of my brain had been
downloaded and syndicated for her viewing pleasure -- in
anyone’s Gmail account, you can read a detailed
record of whatever that person has Googled just by
clicking the “Web history” link. So what if we
had shared a bed for five years? I would never have
shown anyone my Google searches.

The next morning
I logged on, clicked on my Google search history, and
began reading through the graveyard of my curdled curiosity
from the past week. In addition to scores of searches
for my work, many made visible my vulnerable heart. I
had Googled “how to get over someone you
love,” astrological compatibility sites, my
ex’s name several times using several spelling
variations, and psychological terms for fancy mental
diseases I believe she suffers from. I Googled
“same-sex dating services,” signed up
for one, and then received a bunch of
“matches.” Unbeknownst to me, because I
never checked my Gmail account, my ex had read my
profile and even sent me an e-mail asking for a date.

But the topper? I
had Googled erotic stories, the search terms revealing
intimate details of my fantasies that I would never dream of
sharing. What could be worse? I wondered. I may as
well walk through the streets naked with my favorite
electronic toy glued to the top of my head.

Then I noticed
the oddest thing: When I got down to the newest histories,
there were searches that didn’t look at all familiar.
At 7:15 that morning someone had Googled my ex-husband
and sister-in-law -- and it wasn’t me. My
ex’s searches were being linked to mine.

Suffice it to say
that because she had broken into my Gmail account and
had not logged out, all of her searches were being recorded
in my history. And the next few days, until she
finally logged out, I observed with interest. Seeing
her brain up close like this wasn’t pretty. It
began to give me the necessary perspective to finally
understand that she was too obsessive and insecure to
have a rational relationship with.

There is one last
Google to this story, though. We had a joint therapy
session scheduled for the same day that I was flying out of
town, and she agreed to drop me off at the airport
afterward. But when I got in her car, tucked
discreetly in my back pocket were printouts from Google of
the locations of several nearby train stations, just in case
the session went badly and I needed to find my way to
the airport alone.

The relationship
was finally over, and I was a mess inside, but I was
taking back my independence one private Google search at a

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