Tuesday, March 22, 2011


There is one thing that worries me about the conclusion of the "Café" Chapter in my life... One thing among many, really; but this one thing hangs a little more heavily than some of the others. It's the unsettling prospect of falling back into my own head.

Though I have been in the midst of what would seem a necessarily social occupation, I have, nevertheless, been isolated. Neither fish nor fowl in my own pond…not on a level with anyone with whom I rub elbows every day. A servant to the customers; and somewhere hopelessly outside the scope of the girls who work for me. (And yoked to a partner more prone to leave me to my own devices than to steady me when I stumbled…) Nevertheless, I have had to socialize; had to truck with a myriad of people and things out in the wide world. It was at once frightening, frustrating, and very good for me.

Because I know what it is to disappear inside my own head. To have no one to share, not only my deepest thoughts and desires, but any thoughts, no matter how mundane or frustratingly shallow. Better, I think, to feel maddened by a moderately unsatisfactory level of interaction than to be relegated to no interaction at all. I have been there, splashing silently in those dark waters.

Ten years ago, I began the long, slow journey out of that place. Starting and stopping, casting about for hand- and footholds that disappeared or didn't exist at all, climbing up three feet to fall back ten. And then I stumbled, quite by accident, upon a community I hadn't dreamed existed; experienced an acceptance and a level of sharing for which I would never have ventured to yearn. It was late 2003, and on a clueless whim, I floated my first email to the general ether. Two hundred twenty-three words posted at a new site created by America Online: the infant AOL "Journal Land."

There followed five years full of experiences that, at my advanced age (I was 48 years old when I penned my first journal entry) I would have thought were well behind me. I made "friends" all over the country. I discovered that I still could—and did—grow as a writer. I took the chance, crawled outside my own head, and was richly rewarded with friendship, interaction, growth—community.

Unfortunately, that community suffered the faddish fate of most landmarks in our ever-shifting, schizophrenic pop culture landscape: It burned brightly for a short time, then fizzled and disappeared when the "members" of the community abandoned it for the Next Big Thing. That "thing" being social networks like MySpace and Facebook, then Twitter and beyond. It seems that the public opted for quantity of social interaction over depth. So much better to have three hundred "friends" with which to share what you ate for breakfast, rather than a dozen or two with whom you could bare the secrets of your soul.

I was left behind by the mass exodus. And here I am, still, because there are yet some good things about writing in this place, and I am not inclined to quit. Occasionally, I will be rewarded by a thread of interaction reminiscent of the halcyon j-land days. I look upon those as a side benefit, now, to my residence here in the Land of Blog. They would be meager rewards, indeed, if they were the only reason I wrote here.

Facebook? Oh, yes…I have a page. I opened one, closed it, and then opened another. I planned it as a way to keep tabs on the "j-land" friends about whom I still care, but who no longer blog. And also as a tie to far-flung family members. In the end, I have concluded that Facebook has not adequately fulfilled either of those needs. Because, I suppose, that is not its function. I admit, I'm a bit mystified as to what its primary function truly is. But I understand that I am hopelessly on the outside of…whatever that is.

In a way, my absorption into the world of running a business helped me to weather the demise of my other world, the other place that provided all the connection, interaction, frustration and reward that my quirky, introspective soul could handle. Now, with the café going away as well, I know for a certainty that the platform from which I launched myself into that venture longer exists. Where am I going to land?




  1. I guess we'll just have to build a new one.

    I'm not sure what Facebook is for either; I've never twitted and I have no plans to start. Talk to you soon, one way or the other.

  2. Well, we're both still here, whatever that means.

  3. Among the strange quandries of contemporary life, this is high on my list for the strangest. I think FB and the other social media exist exactly because of our isolation, our lack of community. They are attempts to do something that once happened organically, through our real social institutions of church, family, work, school, and so on.

    I am more isolated and lonely now than I have ever been in my life. If I didn't have a partner who (mostly) shares my interests, supports and loves me even in my dark times, I'd be a total solipsism. It has proved almost impossible to make friends where I have been working since moving here, though there are folks I like, interaction seems to stay at the cheerful chat while passing in the hall or copy room level - the friends we have are all somewhat younger, still working full time and always busy.

    Okay, this is turning into an essay - maybe I'll do a post in response to your post, Lisa. this is a conversation.

  4. I'm here too...and appreciate what you write and reflect upon...and the comments you offer on my blog.

  5. Maybe we can't recreate J Land, but let's try for something new.