For months, as winter turned to spring, I was diligent. But my writing comes in surges. Lately, I think about what I’ll post here—which musings are ripe or relevant, and which remain internal: the thoughts that swirl for weeks, influenced by what I read, and morph into very different things, taking my mind elsewhere, forcing me to reset. I have inner dialogues and strong reactions to things I read, but never write about them. I think how easy it has become to “express myself” in other ways (if posting on Instagram is considered expressing oneself). How quick I can create and share a moment there, yet how difficult it is to write here, to say something I hope will last, or encapsulate me at a given moment.
I tweet about this frozen state sometimes. A Twitter pal, @eugenephoto, once said not to worry about being perfect. I understand what he means, that what I write here does not have to be polished, nor must have a point. That this is *my* space to write what I want. Perhaps it’s the thought that each post shapes my digital footprint, adds more data to the trail of Cheri. I think about how I now view posts as finished products of me, how I’ve moved away from sharing a process.
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Many of us consciously self-document our lives, suffering from the Facebook Eye. Each second, I observe friends on Facebook contributing to a shared space of disposable moments, and I sense time is more fickle there—and that Cheri is more reactive—and I sit here at my computer in the dust, drowning in my afterthoughts.
Since the day I got married, I’ve changed my name on various profiles online and begun to sign my new name on documents and checks. As I mentioned in my last post, changing my name is a big step, and because I sit in front of a computer screen for most of the day, with my various profiles staring back at me, I’m constantly reminded of this change.
While I love my new name, the sight is jarring. It’s an interesting sensation seeing and experiencing the immediate effects of a “life event” update—congratulatory comments from friends, family, even strangers—while quietly adjusting to it. In the past few weeks, I’ve visited my Facebook profile more than normal, gazing at my own timeline. I sift through photos and think, “Whoa, that’s me holding a bouquet!”
Maybe it’s the weight of a status update, the finality of the “Married To” field. Currently, the relationship status drop-down menu offers 11 status options, from “Single” to “It’s complicated” to “In an open relationship” to “Married.” While there are more options than before, I still sense the rigidity of it all. Where’s the option for “I just got married and I’m really excited but oh my god my last name is different and I now refer to my partner as ‘husband’ and I’ve opened a joint bank account and ahhhh?!?!”
Perhaps this all smells of digital dualism—me looking in, observing my new life unfold in status updates and Instagrams and updated social media profiles. But my life has changed so much in the past several months, and because it’s so easy to declare something with a quick mouse-click, I feel myself catching up and adjusting to what I see.
I’m thrilled, but stunned. I’m human, after all.
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I’ve been thinking about home again, especially after reading different takes on it at the Equals Project, Miranda Ward’s “Home State of Mind,” and Sarah Handelman’s thoughts on home and domestic bliss. Even though I’ve mused on my once long-distance relationship and concluded that home is tied to love—or is love—my definition of home evolves.
As my husband and I begin a new shared life in San Francisco, I sense that home is a state of comfortable change. I’ve lived in my loft for a little over a year now, and when I lived by myself, I stacked magazines and coasters neatly on my coffee table, unread and unused. I refused to put anything on one bookshelf but a row of my favorite nonfiction hardcovers. And aside from an empty vase in its center, my kitchen table was bare: no papers, no stuff, and not many meals served on it.
Now, there is stuff everywhere, folded and crinkled. Records of the past few weeks, evidence of our future. The bookshelf is covered with random items—playing cards, batteries, receipts, pens—all placed there by my husband. A healthy basil plant we’ve named Basil, pronounced the British way, sits atop the bookshelf—something living, mutable, in the corner. The dishwasher now runs in the kitchen; before, I didn’t accumulate enough dirty dishes to use it. In the bathroom, my Sonicare toothbrush now has a mate; we take turns using the charger.
We all have idiosyncrasies, and I’ve realized some of my habits recently, in the constant presence of another person. Some can be changed, some cannot, some I would not. In this evolving state of home, I’m relishing these changes, from the slight ones to the big ones.
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Amid all the change, our space on the Internet still exists. It’s just different, smaller, more functional. I notice this when I’m upstairs on my computer and he’s downstairs on his laptop; his Twitter @replies and Facebook pokes, no longer sent from across the world, are stripped of something—the subtext that said “I miss you,” the longing felt because of the distance.
I’m still feeling out this whole Internet-shrinking thing, really. More soon.
Cheri Lucas Rowlands
Writer at Writing Through the Fog. Editor at Automattic.