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.