Life is, as we all know, unpredictable.
One short month ago, I was ignorant of the ways of blogging -- and not just ignorant, but oblivious and indifferent, too. I pretty much associated the whole phenomenon of blogging with a geeky person (probably a boy, in my mind's eye) who was attached to his hand-held device and had intimacy issues to boot! In the sake of full disclosure, I am a sad Luddite -- too pathetic to even want to change -- who still needs her 13 yr old daughter to load her IPod.
However, life (as mentioned) is unpredictable . . . and I certainly never imagined that I would be living out some of my finer years in the English countryside! I like margaritas, Tex-Mex, good hamburgers, Shipley's doughnuts, movies, buttered popcorn, Coke icees, bookstores, outdoor tennis courts, and blue skies . . . none of which (well, almost none) can be found in West Berkshire. I do NOT like mud, drizzle, the color gray, dogs, horses, hunting, shooting, did I mention mud? Of these, the countryside has plenty. Indeed, I went to a dinner party not so long ago and almost the entire conversation revolved around shooting, English country-style. You might think that a Texan would be entirely at home in a conversation about shooting, but nay -- as a small child I couldn't stand the sight of the bloodied dove my brother laid so casually on the kitchen counter, and I haven't altered in this opinion.
I already did my time in a small town -- Temple, Texas (for the record) -- and I am like an escaped prisoner who can still feel the phantom chains and never, never wants to go back. Some of you may remember the classic Talking Heads song Once In A Lifetime. If you went to high school in the 80s you will undoubtedly remember the accompanying video in which lead singer David Byrne repeatedly slapped his forehead open-palm style, wildly rolled his eyes, and questioned: Well . . . How did I get here? When I was a high school senior, my late great friend Andrea Jarma and I used to go around imitating David Byrne and feeling rather clever and certainly to-the-point. It is a phrase that has resounded through my mind more than once this last eighteen months.
So, you may think high school reminiscences (from a time when MTV was the new thing and we were all making cassette tapes for our boom boxes) are a tad digressive from the subject of blogging . . . but let me assure you, it will all come together. The truth is: I can live without a good margarita, even though I may not like it and will certainly feel my life to be impoverished by that lack. HOWEVER . . . what I cannot live without are the good conversations/lively banter/sympathetic ear/enjoyable bitch-sessions which accompanied the margaritas. And this is what I've really been feeling short of these days. I have lovely, lovely friends in England . . . but they aren't doorstep friends. They aren't "let's meet at the Taqueria" friends, or let's catch a movie friends.
I've always had good luck meeting like-minded people . . . maybe not LOADS of them, but always enough to satisfy. For some reason, my luck seems to run out; I just haven't been to convert any of my new acquaintances -- some of whom are perfectly pleasant -- into true friends. Although my husband "Sigmund" is a good sort with many fine qualities -- let's face it, he's a fairly taciturn fellow who will never be able to meet my chatting needs. My two daughters are wonderful chatters -- but conversationally, it's still a one-way street down a cul-de-sac with them. They have their own tribes, and that is how it should be.
So, loneliness established: One frigid morning in late January, I decided to google Laurie Colwin, one of my favorite authors . . . and I ended up reading this essay. I felt such kinship with the author of the essay, that I ended up reading her blog . . . and then writing her a fan letter. This lead to other blogs, which lead to emails, which lead to blog-posting, and on and on. I remembered that my friend Jenni had give me Julie & Julia (about a Texan living in NYC, who starts a blog and changes her life) and thus discovered another kindred spirit. Suddenly I had friends in New York City! Well, perhaps I exaggerate . . . but still! It was empowering; I realized that I could just go into cyberspace and FIND those like-minded friends! There actually are people who want to talk about Laurie Colwin or gingerbread or how to make a good biscuit or Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf. Maybe not in Berkshire . . . but somewhere! I needn't be limited by what chatting at the school gates threw my way. It was an exciting process because it reminded me of the buzz I've always gotten from making friendship discoveries; it also reminded me of the joy that I used to get from writing. I've always been good at enthusiasm with that little frisson of euphoria . . . feeling it again made me realize anew how much it had been missing in my life.
It is difficult to keep in touch. I send this out to old friends with the hope that it will be a way of keeping a fresh conversation open. I also send it out (with a fervent belief in serendipity) to the Great Internet . . . in the hope that it may bring a new friend or two into my life.
Please feel free to comment!
Last thought: Please check out some of the blogs I have listed. They are my first favorites, but I'm sure -- now that I've become addicted -- I will be finding new ones, too. All of you Texans MUST check out Homesick Texan. It is a treasure-trove of recipes -- whether or not you live in a place without Rotel.