All the social media sites.
It’s part and parcel of the visibility you’re expected to maintain as a new writer these days, that your ass be plastered across dozens of social media sites, blogs, pinboards and digital back alleys. These beasts tend to rise from the murk, thick with muck of birth, and we swarm them like so many black flies. We eat them, lay in them and fly on to the next one, leaving our maggots to hollow them out.
I’m a little weary of the process—you might have picked that up.
Today, as part of the hollow-and-move-on part of the life-cycle, I deleted one such long abandoned journal. I’d dropped to maybe a single post a year, and we’d been done for a long time. Most of my friends had already jumped ship and my communities were elsewhere so, like JMS at the end of Babylon 5, I assploded the whole damn thing. Or so it seemed.
I’d been writing in it since 2004: my homes were in it, my daughter was born in it, I’d roamed the world in it. Letting it all fall out of memory was hard.
So I saved a day.
The post is from Monday, June 23rd, 2008, but it’s about the day before, the 22nd. A busy Sunday with lots of driving and high emotions for all of us. We’d been in Donegal a little over a year and a half, and my son was five, almost six. Writing had taken a back seat to degree studies in English Language and Literature and we were still just finding our feet in our new home.
Over lunch, while trying to teach our little lad the meaning of the word ‘recognition’, the conversation moved to people we don’t recognise, and from there to strangers. We conferred wordlessly, her and me, and decided to try and talk to him about them.
But by the end—after a short lifetime of being drilled in good manners and doing what he was told when asked—he was so confused and upset about being told to be so naughty towards someone being nice to him, about raising his voice and being cheeky, that he burst into tears.
“Is this a joke?” he asked us halfway through. “You’tre telling me a joke.”
And when we said we weren’t he wanted to cry, only by this point he was so undermined and turned about, that he thought he’d get in trouble for crying and tried to stop it with this huge unnatural grin, as his face turned redder and redder and the tears slid out.
And all we could say to repair it—to comfort and explain—was that we didn’t want bad people to get him; confirming forever that they were out there.
I have never hated this world so much as I did in that moment.
When the tears subsided, he showed us the octopus puppet he’d made during the week at school. I asked if he knew what an octopus sounded like.
“No, I don’t know anything about octopusses.”
“Octopi,” I corrected.
“What’s an octopi?”
“One octopus. Many octopi.”
“Like naevus,” his mother added. “One naevus, many—”
“Naevi,” answered the pathologist’s son, confidently, on firmer ground here.
“One hippopotamus, many—?” I continued.
“Hippos,” said Dan.
“Oh!” he cut in. “Hippi.”
Dressing him for his cousin’s birthday party after lunch, his mother tells him to,
“Put these Levis on for me, please.”
“No, mummy,” he chides gently. “One Levus, many Levi.”
“You’re funny,” she tells him.
“I’m not funny,” he repies. “I am hilarious.”
Smoking in my sister-in-law’s garage, mid-party, my wife tells me excitedly how they’ve found ice on Mars. Had to hug her in that moment, in eternal thanks for finding someone who is as pragmatic and girly as she is, yet also the kind of person who will tell me how excited she is that there’s ice on Mars. She regrets, she told me, that she won’t live to see the “Evacuation of Earth!”
How I loved you then.
We’re together thirteen years this year. [Now seventeen years, and still waiting to be "Evacuated" together—D.]
It rained so hard in the morning, but was sunny and clear as we drove home last night.
And that was yesterday.