Life, Writing
comments 7

Meet me in the garden

The other day I had to go through some old blog posts of mine. It was both endearing and awkward to see myself call readers “darling” and “kitten” (I always was a sucker for endearments), post outfit photos, and recommend everything from skin care to books to life philosophy without hesitation. I remember being that Maria. She was sweet, and young, and fond of pink.

Most of all, reading those old posts I realized how much I miss blogs. Not just my own, but the whole world of them. With the notable exception of sewing blogs, which is still a thing, there aren’t many left anymore. It’s all videos now or, if we’re lucky, a longish Instagram caption. My still virus-addled brain is thankful for videos, but… I miss the words.

When it comes to my own blog, I still write post after post — I just don’t publish them. Partly because I can’t seem to actually finish one, and also because I have complicated feelings about my privacy. After a decade of having to share my most personal details to a blurry line of doctors, psychologists, government employees and such, I fiercely treasure my new privacy. At last my sole source of income and medical help doesn’t depend on divulging any and every detail. I can choose whether or not to share.

Sometimes I wonder, though: is it just the relief of setting my own boundaries, or is there an element of fear mixed in? Distrust? I mean, it would be utterly natural if there was, but it’s something to consider. Because I also miss the writing, inviting you into my thoughts. As someone who leaves the house once a week at the most (pandemic or not), my “online presence” is my biggest connection to the world. And sometimes, sometimes, I feel vaguely ghost-like out here in the ones and zeroes, invisibly staring through digital windows while avoiding the light from lamp posts that would reveal me.

Ever since I started blogging, back in 2008 (oh, boy), my focus was on style, on clothes, on the bodies in them. A decade later I didn’t want to do that anymore. It felt right to drop that theme, but, while freeing, it was also akin to the blank page many artists fear: here, you can do anything — now make something. As much as I dislike metaphorical boxes, it can be helpful to create inside some kind of frame.

For a while I wrote about my life, about being ill. I thought I had to, in the name of ME/CFS activism (which the world sorely needs), in the name of honesty and depth. I’ve always been a smidge too earnest for my own good. But I don’t want to do that anymore. It feels way too private to leave out here, allowing anyone to glare into my digital home, my private rooms, my bare self.

Still. Maybe I can still be here, maybe I can still write, maybe it’s not a case of all or nothing. Maybe instead of a window flung open to the dark, I can invite you to join me in something more like a metaphorical garden.

Instead of fearing that this boundary will invalidate my illness, or make it seem like I’m faking it, maybe we can all remember that what we see online will always be a curated kind of life, a part of the whole.

Something rather like a garden.

7 Comments

  1. Guðrún says

    This is a very thoughtful and thought provoking post! It makes sense not to want to lay your whole life out for others to read, but then what is there! The garden analogy is extremely lovely and quite good, I think – I’m interested to visit and see what more you write😄

  2. Elissa says

    It’s beautiful to see you back, writing something so lovely and thoughtful. I subscribed to your blog back in the google reader days, transferred it to feedly (RIP Google Reader, we still miss ye), and would be delighted to read your future posts if you choose to share them.

  3. I was super excited to get an email notification about a new blogpost from you and I would love to visit more often — if and when you want visitors! <3

  4. Maria says

    It’s a lovely surprise and a real treat to receive a message from you this morning, especially one so thoughtful and illuminating.

    In 2017, after being healthy throughout my life, I fell ill with a couple of autoimmune conditions, GCA and PMR. The steroid medication controls the pain and a lot of the inflammation, but does nothing for the deathly fatigue which is constant, nor for the brain fog which is intermittent. I’ve learned a lot about pacing, the spoon theory etc in the last 4 years, but at least I know that my ailments are self-limiting and they will eventually come to an end. I also have the advantage that my illnesses are recognised and accepted by the medical profession. It must be so much harder not to be able to see a definite end to a debilitating condition and to know that many doctors don’t believe in it anyway.

    I’ll be delighted to visit your garden any time you decide to extend an invitation.
    Another Maria

  5. Bonnie says

    I have been enjoying reading your words for such a long time, and have fond memories of your old posts – of your wonderful lessons on fabrics; of getting a glimpse into your life in Europe, so far from my own in Australia; of your wonderful glittery blue shoes that I dreamed of owning. I will also feel a lovely little moment of happiness when I see that you have written something new, and to spend some time with you in your garden.

  6. Where I live there are few gardens. My neighbors seem to cultivate trash, not flowers. Even the city park a couple of blocks away does not have any flower beds, just folks sleeping in their parked cars. Receiving an email about a new post from you is like coming across a rose growing through a crack in the concrete. It’s a delight, whether the subject is light or heavy. You always make what you have to share interesting. Please continue to send them.

  7. Ursula in Cádiz says

    How absolutely lovely to read you again!

    I am setting out my camp chair on the lawn and have put some tealights in coloured glasses around about, to create a kinder light than the glare of a lamppost. I shall sit quietly here in the garden with my book in the hope of tempting you out from behind the bushes once more. Until then, have a hug from Spain.

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