5 things I miss and so much more

Someone from my graduate program, who knew I'd done research on blogging for the pedagogy chapter of my dissertation, asked me recently if I was still blogging or if the research had ruined it for me. There was definitely a time when I no longer wanted to research blogging but never a time that I thought I don't want to blog anymore. I haven't blogged as frequently, perhaps, as I once did but that mostly has to do with how I've been spending my time. Then yesterday I was talking to someone about blogs and I explained that blogging, for me, is the space I give myself for personal writing. Yes, other people sometimes read it and I enjoy having an audience but blogging, for me, is just writing.

One of the things I've always loved about blogging and it can be true of other social media is the interconnectivity of it. I can link to other blogs and website, exhibiting the kind of intertextuality that I feel is always present in my life. I like showing how I arrived at my thoughts or at least what sparked my thinking about a particular topic or subject and typically, I find inspiration in other blogs. For example, I was reading Julia's blog a few days ago and I saw her post about "5 things I miss the most," a post inspired by the site Soulpancake. Soulpancake is a site driven by discussions on "life's big questions," spirituality, beauty, art, etc. and seeks conversations from its readers. The actor/comedian Rainn Wilson is one of the creators of the site and it just so happens that one of my Millikin students helped work on the site. Also, I do not know Julia personally; though she knows people I also know, we mostly became acquainted through one another's blogs. You can see the connective webs at work here.

All of that to not only track the idea for the following "5 things I miss" list but to also further explain why I bother writing here, in this space. Now, to the list:

5 things I miss:

1. Innocence
You know those moments in your life that once you're older you look back and it plays out like a movie you're watching where you know exactly what's going to happen if a character makes a decision but the character doesn't know? That's what the winter before I turned 14 was like. In playing it back now, it is one of the defining moments of my life because it was when I discovered that all of the things I'd been afraid of in the dark were nothing compared to the violence and monstrosity of people. I found out that monsters were real and that they were us. I thought I'd written before about this scene in my fave TV Show Supernatural but if I have I can't seem to find it. The scene takes place after Dean and Sam complete a job that reminds Dean of their childhood; Sam finds out some things he didn't know about how far his brother went to protect him. The conversation between the brothers at the end echoes what I feel about my own loss of innocence.

My yearning is not about regrets. I don't think you can regret a moment that you had very little control over. And I'm not saying I would change things, because I've seen enough time travel films and read enough books to know that changing one moment changes everything. I can't help but feel that I would be a completely different person had I not experienced it and what followed. But, yes, I am often envious of the people I know who tell me about their sheltered lives and their sweet memories of adolescence. The question asks what you miss and I miss the innocence, the moment before everything I knew about the world changed.

2. My relationship with my brother. Growing up we were inseparable. My brother went on dates with me; we genuinely liked one another and spent an insane amount of time together. You can read the letter I wrote for one of his birthdays here and the letter I wrote about his wedding here. It will give you some backstory. Even when I was in college, I tried to stay close. It was harder, of course. I didn't travel home very often and I know I missed out on a lot. When Matt was in college I would drive to Tuscaloosa, hang out for the weekend not so much as big sister but as a friend. I knew that moving to Illinois would change things; I just didn't realize how much. At first, we were close but as time moved on and I came home less, we became less and less of an influence on one another. I never felt truly distant, though, until he graduated. He moved to Birmingham and bought a house, was working on a career, got married. It just seemed that there was less and less we had common and less and less time we made for one another. I know that we were growing more as our own people and not so much together, as siblings. From the outside, maybe we still seem as close as we once were. I still love spending time together, especially with our parents because we so easily slip into our comfortable roles, only this time as adults. Still, though, something feels different to me, more distant. We each have our own lives, relationships, careers. We don't talk as often as we used to and when we do, it isn't the same. I suppose it really couldn't be and I know we both had a hand in letting time or geography or differences in politics create space between us. I miss the relationship I wrote about in those letters. And it kind of breaks my heart that we are ghosts of our former selves with one another and there doesn't seem to be a way to get back. Too much time, distance; our lives are at two different points with an ocean in between.

3. "Visiting" with people. In Alabama, in my family and even in my circle of friends there, we practiced the art of visiting. For those of you who don't know visiting is just hanging out with someone, talking. Some visits are impromptu; you walk outside, see someone in the yard or on their porch and 2 hours later and lots of tea later, you make some excuse about dinner or having taken up so much of said person's time and you leave. Other visits are planned where you meet for lunch, which usually turns into drinks and sometimes on a particularly lazy day and several phone calls later, dinner at someone's house. Or you might go to someone's house for dinner, stay for drinks and see where the night takes you. Visiting means allowing the lull in conversation to exist and be just fine with sitting in someone else's company without saying anything. We don't really do this much anymore. Sometimes it happens with my neighbors but only occasionally.

4. Dinners and TV with Brianne. Every Wednesday for a while I would go to Brianne's and eat dinner with her and the kids and watch TV. She got me hooked on One Tree Hill and I think she's the reason I found out about Supernatural, watching CW in the first place. Though, I was still in graduate school and feeling like I'd never finish; there's still something I miss about those nights. (Are we noticing a trend in my list?)

5. I miss writing. I feel as though I wrote for myself more whether it was blogging or writing a short story or poem or even working on something academic. It seems like I'm losing more and more writing time and I don't know how or why. I miss feeling like I was working toward something in my writing. Re-reading some of my blog posts reminded me how much I used to reveal here and I wonder why that stopped. I miss the revelations and the exhaustion that comes from saying something true. I hope I will get some of it back as I teach a kind of personal essay class for minority students this semester.