I have missed this space. For nearly ten years, I kept up a blog — mostly to practice the public art of writing and reflection, but also where I sometimes ventured into more intimate realms. It’s fallen away over the last couple years, as I grew busier with journalism and book projects, literary work and the altogether business of life. Isak, as the blog was called, diminished organically. The redesign of this website last fall seamed to seal the door shut. I sighed. I thought, with gratitude, that I needed Isak once, and it helped me grow. Now, I have different needs.
But lately, I’ve been itching for this space again. I felt a seed in me and nowhere to plant it. There are things I think, things I feel, and I struggle to carve out space for them in my ordinary life of cups of coffee, phone interviews, email threads, and evening runs. I’ve noticed with horror how the consequences of old hurts and humiliations take real-life shape today. It’s hard for me to trust others with my emotional life. It’s hard for me to not see my own vulnerability as a problem to be solved. It feels unsafe to say plainly what I want. It’s hard to express even this much without little self-recriminations floating in my mind, like the gray seeds of blown dandelions sharpened into needles, chastising myself for being so indulgent here with my feelings. I sleep deeply at night, but I often wake in the morning as if I were in a war zone: stomach down, elbows bent and forearms under my chest, shoulders hunched, neck tucked, hands in tight fists with my fingernails cutting lines into the soft skin of my palms. I suspect that my guardedness has led to the loss or diminishment of so many relationships. People I love. My own fault. Ashes on my tongue.
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you don’t bring forth what is within you, what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.”
— Gospel of St. Thomas.
I recognize this. And also, the act of writing — it is my deepest joy, my lifelong friend, my hand to hold. While I often catch myself hemming and hawing in conversations that turn vulnerable, wrangling in the net of my feelings and fears, writing is the channel that washes through me. I find myself. I find the nerve to take up space, and to share it with you. Though, as I’ve mentioned before, I feel like my creative life is stunted by my discomfort with personal visibility, which is to say, vulnerability.
“The state of emergency is also always a state of emergence.”
— Claudia Rankine, Citizen
This is a song of return. I have no neat knot to tie here. I don’t know what this second life of the blog will look like — though I do know it will be different, more persistently personal and idiosyncratic, a realm to risk the exposure and exploration of things that are difficult, messy, painful. A place to ventilate the stultifying narratives we (I) tell ourselves about ourselves. All this, I think, is worth it for its own sake. But I also hope that this tree will grow sturdy limbs that connect me to you, you to me.