This is the post that has to be written, before anything else can be posted or written.
For 2 years, I have barely written anything here. I have started many posts, and they linger in my drafts folder. I visit them regularly, add a few sentences, tinker with the words. Some of those posts, I think, are very good, or will be very good, with a little more tinkering. Some of them are beautiful. Some of them are sad. But before you can read any of them, I have to write this one. Some of you have reached out, asking where I have gone, if I am writing elsewhere…
The answer is simple and infinitely complex: 2 years ago, for 2 reasons, I lost my voice, here.
This is why:
1: I wrote about That Kid, which went viral in (what I have since learned is) the purest, most genuine way of going viral. I had no promotion strategy, no plan, no intention. I wrote a thing, and millions of people read it. Millions. Many, multiple millions. If we include the translations, probably tens of millions. Amazing, yes. A thrill-ride, exciting, amazing, often terrifying. I am terribly, terribly proud of that post, and I stand behind my message. But also: it stripped away my quasi-anonymity while also opening the door to deeply disturbing comments, hate mail, threats. How do you (I) follow that? How do I go back to silly throw-away posts about my dog? How do I live up to the expectation that created?
2: Three weeks after That Kid, just as things were settling down, The Most Terrible Thing happened. For this, it is no longer the finding of these words, but rather the saying of them, that paralyzes me: My friend was murdered. That changed everything. Every. Thing. Loss changes everything. Grief changes everything. Murder changes loss and grief in ways I never wanted to know. There were times when I wrote hard and true and raw, in the deep of night, about what murder does to grief, to love, to the mind and the heart and the spirit. Those words, though, did not, do not, belong here (yet?) because they do not only belong to me, but also to people I love very much, and never, NEVER, do I want my healing to cause them pain. And my friend’s life matters so very very much more than her death.
These 2 things, coming one after the other, not equal or related, but somehow, inextricably connected, have left me so, so, different. I am still who I was, in many ways. I love my dog and my house (I have a new house! One that belongs to ME!), my family and friends, my books, my city, my work, but also…
I am more tender-hearted, more empathetic, more sensitive. I cry more easily, at my own pain and the pain of others.
I am both more and less patient, tolerant, generous.
I am more fearful and also more confident.
My view of the world is clearer and also more infinitely complicated.
I am more connected to, and grateful for, my job and school community, but also more able to put my work in context as one part of my life and world.
I am quieter and more vocal.
I am so much more grateful for the good in my life, the comforts and friends and resources and opportunities, and also so excruciatingly aware of the fragility of it all.
I am different. My voice is different. The things I want to write about are different, and so is the way I want to write. I might disappoint you. I might delight you.
I WANT to write again, but this is the post that had to be written, before anything else can be posted or written.
You might stay, or you might leave.
I hope you’ll stay.
Happy New Year