This morning in the shower I had lines from a potential blog post drafting in my head. As I got dressed I thought, “write it down. Write it down now.”
I’m at my annual professional conference, even though I haven’t presented in ages – I come to stay connected to the idea that I am an anthropologist. Finally, after the last elections, I am feeling like I have something new to say. I will probably throw an abstract into the pot for next year, and work on an article meanwhile.
Yesterday I saw a hand waving through a windshield outside the conference center and ran through the first smatterings of rain and snow to meet her – I read Pam’s blog archives (Bloodsigns) through from first to last while I was on bedrest in my second pregnancy, so that was seven years ago now. I first read her writing on one of those blog exchanges that happened in the mid-aughts, where in an effort to cross-pollinate our blogs someone organized a way for infertility/loss/adoption bloggers to guest blog for each other. Does anyone reading this remember that? I remember feeling so confused as the voice, style, and tone on this one blog suddenly changed so much, then realized what was happening. That was how I found Pam.
There is a truism in anthropology that we work “to make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.” Meeting Pam was at once so familiar, and so strange. I have seen photos of her face on her blog, but more on Facebook (my husband thinks it is so strange that I am Facebook friends with half a dozen women I have never met in real life, that I know only in this electronically mediated way). “I feel like I know you!” she exclaimed.
We talked about our children, our writing, our feelings after the election. We drove through increasingly precipitating streets to the public library where we had coffee and pastries, then sat together at a poetry reading organized as part of the conference. We exchanged book recommendations.
I have to confess: meeting Pam in person was the thing I was looking forward to most about coming to this conference. Wish fulfilled.
Her actual speaking voice sounded nothing like the voice I had heard in my head while reading her blog, but the warmth in her smile and eyes conveyed the spirit I had come to know in her words.
We talked about making connections through blogging, and what that had meant for each of us during our years of actively working to build our families, through the pain and grief and fears of infertility. Neither of us is actively in that stage anymore – no more two-week waits – but there is something about feeling known and understood and accepted that we both miss about the ALI blogging community.
I’m thinking about changing my blog name, if not the URL. I’m thinking about remaking this online space as a place where I can re-engage in that practice of writing my life in community and connection with other women. I know that writing means reading means commenting means being present in other people’s lives as well.
I started this year with a lot of goals. I fell off the wagon on most of them within a few months. This is another attempt at a new start… I finished my dissertation; I know I can do this.