Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Writing for my life

"I asked myself when you said you loved me, do you think this can be real?"

I started this blog because I wanted to participate in the Bead Soup Blog Party, an event where you exchange beads with another artist you are partnered with, make something with the beads and on the designated "reveal" date, post the things you made on your blog. You also are encouraged to visit all the other participants blogs and comment on their creations should the spirit move you. Obviously, a requirement of the Bead Soup exchange is that you have a blog.

And now that I have a blog (again), I have found myself reflecting on my life, present and past. I blogged for a while on the Houston Chronicle website. I went back to look just now to see if it still was there. I didn't find it. I guess when you don't post for five years or so, your blog gets deleted. Although I didn't see where I could sign up for a new one, so maybe reader blogs aren't open to the general public now.

I did keep copies of my posts, so maybe I'll put them up on my website in case anyone wants to see what I was musing about back then.

I've always written. Before blogs, before forums and chat rooms and bulletin boards, I just wrote stories, essays, the essential equivalent of a blog post. I'll probably go through those too, clean them up a bit, organize them and publish them. Just in case, you know, anyone is interested in what I was thinking about in the '90s.

And long before I had my current website, long before personal websites were ubiquitous, if not de rigueur, I had a little fledgling site on Angelfire called Three Graces. I'm a little embarrassed that it's still out there, but not embarrassed enough to log in and delete it. I warn you, it is slow to load, because it has music. And ads. Including (shudder) pop-up ads. When I set it up the ads were only directed at webmasters, not visible to the public. Things change.

I created that little website in 1998 on a whim and without a clue what I would put on it. No one I knew had their own website and people were impressed that I did, even though it lacked anything resembling a design. I built the first pages strictly with a generic template, but I did learn some html along the way, and how to (blush) embed music files. If you don't want to wade through the poetry, art, stories, and lists, some of the pages in photo ops are kind of cool, like my visit to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge with Jane Goodall. And this one of my first out-of-state trip with Neil to the Grand Canyon. (Neil loves this one.)

Well, now that that quirky little secret has been dealt with, I'll continue to ponder my life and times. Because it has been a crazy and interesting ride.

Three Graces was born during the winter that my marriage was unraveling. I spent a lot of time on the computer then (some things don't change). It was that winter that I started to have feelings for someone I met online. Let me back up for a minute. While researching depression I'd stumbled into a support forum called brilliantly, Support Group dot com. There were message boards for many varieties of illness, disorder, condition, syndrome, what have you.

The depression forum was very active, even if the idea of a depression support group sounds like an oxymoron. When a member was feeling unsafe or at risk of self harm, there were always other members to talk them off the ledge. I think it helped people feel less alone, it was validating to have someone say, I understand exactly how you feel. Or, I've been where you are, please hang on, it can get better. I lurked for a while because posting something on the internet seemed huge, even in a tiny obscure corner of the world wide web. Some people used real names, some used names like Justme or Sadmom, some simply used a different christian name and some used their own.

When I finally posted I was Liz. And before you go looking, that website has long been decommissioned. Which is a shame because there was a searchable archive and I would love to re-read some of the posts from that era. I saved some of them. I even had a file of printed copies of posts but I deep-sixed it long ago. An amazing thing is that I've stayed in touch with a few of the people I met on that forum, mostly via Facebook now. It's going on fourteen years since I've heard directly from Nick. Which is why I think I can write about it now.

When Nick first posted, he had just asked his girlfriend of six years to leave his house. He was a couple of years older than me, but what made it seem almost providential was that he lived in my area code. He was funny, flirtatious and quintessentially bright. A night owl who worked from home, he posted mostly in the evenings, while I had only my work laptop and a very complicated protocol for logging in remotely. So I often read his posts the following morning at work. I joked that we had an "on and off" relationship. He was online while I was off, and vice versa.

Despite the humor and the philosophy, he was in a crisis. He talked openly about his seven years of sobriety but at this time depression was the demon he fought. One night he sounded seriously hopeless. In the morning I posted this.
*Laughing is medicine*

How's the head today?

I think you had a brainstorm.

A storm in the brain. That's what Bill Styron called it.

He got better.

You creative geniuses are like that. You know, brilliant, but tortured.

I haven't been there. Just the blues.

Since I was a kid. 30 years. More or less. Give or take. Comes and goes. On and off.

Not a genius I guess.
And the next day this.
Keep fighting it. A nanosecond at a time. We have a discussion to finish. Etymology. Etiology. Theology. Love.

When you're ready.

I'll keep checking in.
And then, the morning after Nick's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad night, this.
My best friend in college told me that if I killed myself she would never forgive me.

She was right.

And now I say it to you.

Don't!

If you can't hold on, go to the emergency room.

Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

You have kids. They won't forgive you.

Death is bad. Death is final (probably).

I'm praying anyway.
And then, the one that blew it wide open, the one that, for me at least, sowed the seeds of our cyber-fiber-optic love affair.
You made me smile. You must be better. Good.

You posted earlier (and I quote):

*Death may NOT be an evil.
But because i'm not privy,
i'd rather err on the safe side.*

Good.

It made me think of a poem by e e cummings. I looked it up:

*since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis*

I think I think like cummings. In this case anyway.
How could I have known that Nick worshiped cummings?

How could I have known it was possible to love someone who you'd never met? To love someone when you didn't know what they looked like, whether they were thin or fat, tall or short, white or black, and it didn't matter because you felt like you were connecting with their soul?

Then again, it was all really only a fantasy. Wasn't it?

"Still I sent up my prayer
Wondering where it had to go
With heaven full of astronauts
And the Lord on death row
While the millions of his lost and lonely ones
Call out and clamor to be found
Caught in their struggle for higher positions
And their search for love that sticks around."

(Joni Mitchell, Same Situation, from Court and Spark)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz