September 20, 2008
The idea of leaving is only attractive, of course, because Certain Things don't change. Leaving involves excruciating loss of stability. For one thing, conflicts between friends take time to work themselves out, but moving away means losing the chance to make amends. Also, most of us prefer to live our lives in patterns of regular contact with the ones we love, people who confirm or challenge our views of ourselves. Moving away brings irregularity, erasing all guarantees that we will receive regular support from our community. Moving brings turmoil that can only be described as awful.
Unless we keep up with the people behind us, and they keep up with us. Unless in the midst of this context of change, some continuity appears in our friendships. And time after time, of course, we find that we do, they do, it does. Even sudden breaks and well-covered tracks do not keep the past at bay for us...
So I guess the reason I like leaving is that it unveils some of these Certain Things. People keep up with one another. Relationships are validated. Investments pay off. Moving helps me remember that some good things don't change.
The day before Hurricane Ike, I re-read the previous post. The last line "leaving well is an art," made me cringe. I felt an urge to post an immediate retraction. (So much for immediate.) Now that the waters have subsided and my leave-taking is less than 48 hours away, I'm worn out from the struggle to stay present until (and hopefully through) the move. Staying present, as in not checking out. As in, calling folks back that haven't been called back. As in, sharing contact info with everyone. As in, listening to people. As in, continuing to be honest about what I'm feeling and hoping and fearing, even with people I don't plan to see anytime soon.
Because of all this "trying to be healthy" activity, my head hurts. I'm really tired. I have a rash. I can't sleep. My bank account was overdrawn four times last week. And leaving well looks less like an art and more like a mess. I'm still willing to say I like all that closing-out-my-time-here ritual, but I wanted to be sure to say it's hard. And I don't enjoy the leaving itself.
September 6, 2008
Comfort. Security. Cardboard boxes. They all go in the same category, for me. Organizing life into cubes that are taped shut and labeled forces some prioritization. Moving house puts things in perspective, in turns confirming or rejecting entries on my list of Things Thought To Be Important.
This coming week, I pack. The week after, I wrap-up. Then comes a big party followed by a big drive. Ahh. That's the part I'm going to enjoy. Then come the weeks of sorting through old attachments and returning some calls, not returning others. Making the effort to keep up with some people, not with others. Meeting and memorizing. Incorporating new things without losing old ones. That's the part that makes me tired.
For now, I plan to enjoy the busy-ness and all the ritual associated with it: paper plates, sleeping in a sleeping bag, getting the car checked out, obtaining medical records, cleaning the place up, last-minute movie nights, lunches, get-togethers... If Arriving in a new place is, for me, a tedious science, Leaving Well is an art, and an enjoyable one at that.
September 4, 2008
Hot drinks. Gossip. Music. Refills. These things are close to my heart. In fact, they're close to the hearts of soccer moms, punk rockers, contractors, middle schoolers, lobbyists, and cab drivers. When they combine in predictable, welcoming ways, people feel like they have a place in the world. The community adopts a new space for thinking and talking about the world as they experience it.
It's organic, almost inevitable, except for the fact that modern American life seems practically opposed to coffeeshop culture. Personal computers, drive-through windows and suburban subdivisions lure us away from it with promises of increasing our efficiency. Then there's the commercialization of coffee, the efforts of starbucks and others to hit the right balance between selling the process and shrink-wrapping it. They call it the "third place," not where people live, not where they work. Just where they connect.
Let's hope they manage to facilitate those connections without making them too explicit. I'm optimistic. I want to believe that human community happens around and in spite of whatever packaging marketing departments might place upon it. I want to believe the roadblocks of individualism will always eventually give way to the interconnectedness of people. I want to believe we're participants in a larger narrative of life, regardless of any moment-by-moment indications. Is that too much to pack into a little coffeeshop?
September 2, 2008
on having waited long enough
Blogging isn't primarily a chance at self-expression, a chance to process, or a chance to display snippets of private life to the public audience of friends. Maybe these are good things, maybe not. Sometimes they happen through blogs, sometimes they don't. If they come about as a result of blogging, they're always secondary to the Main Idea. Icing on a cake.
Blogging, at its best, represents writers saying things about the world. Blogging isn't the same as journalism, although it's more than journalling. Being personal yet not private, blogs allow writers to list and to order the events that occur at the intersection of experience and thought. Comment functions provide feedback without infringing upon authorial authority - not criticism, just "comments," just data. Bloggers who place greater emphasis on personal discovery, recognition, or social connected-ness might be putting the cart before the horse.
Just say something about the world around you. Just put your best thought forward.
Whether or not this message strikes a chord in anyone else, it's something the author of this blog needs to hear. Too much growth and friction and pain and happiness have passed by un-thought-about for the back burner to lie dormant any longer. Blogs reflect an important part of being human: the ability to talk sensibly about what's happening around us. Blogging as a discipline forces a person to realize and sharpen this ability, two things that are quick to atrophy in this blogger.
The back burner's records date the entry preceding this one March 5th. Six months of blog silence, of waiting. At some point, the author stopped waiting for something to change in his writing and started waiting for things to stop changing everywhere else. Neither hope was a realistic one. Waiting is a reality of life, but blogging (or writing, or performing, or constructing, or any other sort of speaking) while waiting means one doesn't have to put life on hold until Things Work Themselves Out. Sometimes life brings Not-work-out-able Things. Unable reliably to tell the difference between the two, the best folks can do is to talk about them, cultivating sense line-by-line or even word-by-word. Waiting rooms become ordering, thinking, feeling rooms. Patients say things.
More blogging tomorrow.