It's been a little over a year since I moved back to my hometown. Up until this week, I didn't feel grateful to be here. 

COVID-19 is worse in the city than it is here. There are more confirmed cases, and it's harder to avoid people. If I were still with my ex, I'm sure the drama in his family would be at an all-time high. They don't exactly follow regular laws, so it wouldn't surprise me if they ignored social distancing laws and got all of us sick. If I'd stayed there after breaking up, I wouldn't have a car, which would mean public transportation and increased risk of infection. The community gardens aren't allowed to operate because they've been deemed as "recreational," even though there are people who rely on them for growing food. I wouldn't have much social support. I would be far more stressed out and feel much more lonely.

The point is that I'm here — not there. I'm in a small town with family. It does suck that my workplace was forced to close down and temporarily lay us all off. However, I haven't bought my own place yet (and won't for a while, it seems), which means no huge bills to worry about. I have a car, so I can still get around safely. There's a nature trail right down the street where I go running. The garden we built last summer is going to be very handy this year. I'm actually excited to be of use to my parents for once. I've been gardening long enough that I know how to grow corn, beans, peas, tomatoes, onions, and other practical foods. I've already direct-seeded several cold-hardy veggies like radishes, peas, lettuces, and green onions. That should help cut back on grocery store trips. Also, I'll be helping out my father with his irrigation business later this month. His usual guys aren't coming back, and he must be desperate for help because he asked me to work with him. I'll do what I can. I don't know how the physical labour aspect of it will go, due to my crappy back, but I am fairly strong. We'll see. 

Being home all day is harder than I thought it would be. I'm not the most social person ever and am usually quite happy to stay home and do my own thing. But I miss seeing my friends, and it annoys me that I can't do my workouts at the gym anymore. I also enjoy shopping at Winners. Goodbye to all that stuff! Now I spend hours every day researching gardening. One trick I'm going to try is warming up the soil with plastic sheeting. Doing that will allow me to start warm-weather plants a bit earlier than usual. Today I built a teepee for climbing peas. I've only ever grown the bush variety before. With a vining variety, I can use more vertical space and get more food. I also looked into crop rotation and companion planting, but I won't bore you with all of that. 

I feel like I should be spending more time online writing. What I'm doing instead is following my passion and seeing where that takes me. I want writing to be fun for me again. At some point, it turned into this thing I had to do in order to x,y,z. It was for the end result. But what's the point of getting to the end if I don't enjoy the process? So what I'm doing instead is writing in my paper notebook again. Nothing interesting comes out, but that's ok. I think it still counts as progress.

I can't remember if I mentioned this in my last entry or not, but I'm feeling less angry these days. Talking things out with someone helped me to feel validated. I still think about my ex every day. Instead of feeling angry, I feel sad. I forgive him. I miss him. I don't want him to be happy — I'm not that good of a person — but I don't wish anything bad on him. I still hope that one day he'll realize what an ass he was and contact me to apologize. Other men have done this. I don't think he will. 

The Walking Dead is on pause on Netflix. I'm rewatching Season 7 before catching up on the other seasons I haven't watched yet. It's something I used to do before dating my ex. Oh, and my weight is almost back to normal. That feels good too.

Thanks for reading.

Reflections on the Reading of a Message Inbox Archive
Or, What I Did During The Great Social Distance

"I love you. Do the best you can"
"S'ok. I don't pay that much attention to stuff you say. :)"
"I've got plenty of ink AND venom."

dannye, to me

As many of you will know, I took a l-o-n-g break from E2, which was largely unintended on my part. I came back a few weeks ago to an Inbox full of messages dating back to well before I started my unintended "sabbatical". Since then I've slowly been working my way through the thousands of messages, most of which I'd never read, or at least not deleted.

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with them. Many were messages of sympathy or support from the various life events daylogged in 2012. Some were messages clearly intended to be read on my return, some were requests to do E2-godly-or-admin things, and some just feedback or commentary on writeups.

Among these were many messages from old friends that I'd read and never archived. They were fragments of conversations, some remembered and some lost. Some of the authors are lost to us now, for any of a hundred different reasons. Many, like me, had drifted away. Some had fled in anger, fear or loathing. Some, I knew, had outgrown E2 or fallen by the wayside as E2 itself changed around them. Some fell victim to spats or personal attacks. Some, I learned, had died. Yet the messages they'd left for me, these threads of humanity, these fingernail clippings were abandoned until I returned.

As I went back, responding to some, deleting or archiving others, I started to find threads of old conversations dating back to well before my departure from England. Some brought back memories of success, gains, losses. Some were simple commentaries. Some were supportive and a few, abusive or insulting. Some I read more carefully than others. There were words of advice, support, concern. There were little gems, stars in forgotten constellations, nuggets of amber preserving a tiny speck of history. Some of these noders had gone, some remained, and I was initially baffled what I should do with the sheer number of messages.

The easiest solution was to simply delete them all. Sometimes it was clear that the originators were no longer here, and yet I found it hard to just wipe them out. Call me silly and sentimental if you must; dannye certainly would have.

I came back to discover that he'd died. I'd never hear from him again, but because he was dear to me I read every single one of the over eighty messages I had kept from this wonderfully direct man. He was not universally liked on E2, but he didn't care. He only cared about the quality of the writing here and had little regard for people's thin skins. When I first started writing here he was one of many who encouraged me, gave me honest feedback and supported and guided me when I became an editor. He wasn't always happy with the decisions I made as an admin; he was critical of the liberal manner with which we (gods and editors) handled some of the more abusive and difficult people here, didn't like the kid glove treatment we generally preferred. Nonetheless in his own way he's one of the kindest and most lovable of people. I said "he is" because like so many others he's still alive as long as we're telling his story.

So we'd talked about philosophy and politics, life and death, writing and reading. Yes, we disagreed about many topics. But one topic bubbled to the top over time. As it became clear he was seriously ill, we talked about cancer. And caring and suffering and death. I learned more about him in those conversations than I could ever have hoped. He taught me things and he too learned from me.

When I took a road trip back from Michigan in the truck I'd bought, I'd planned to come South and travel through Illinois, Arkansas, Texas and all points West. He invited me to stay overnight. Me, this hippy pagan limp-wristed liberal would be staying in the home of a free-thinking but outspoken conservative. So I had the rare privilege of meeting him. I even have a selfie I took with him (which I promised on pain of death to never show anyone). I shared his table, drank his beer and sat in his hot tub, and all the while felt like I was unworthy of him and his hospitality. Maybe there's a story in there, maybe one I'll get to tell one day, as it's the trip when I also met Jet-Poop, dann and others. But not today, this is just about one man.

I guess that this rambling mess of a daylog is just to say /me misses dannye. No doubt he'd pull a face at that, but y'know what? I don't care, mate.

So if you get a message from me out of the blue, know that I'm just cleaning up the dust bunnies and hoping you're still alive to read it. If you don't get one from me, I don't know. Maybe I don't love you, didn't get to you yet or just possibly you'd never sent me one.

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