I've lived my whole life in the Sun Belt, so Earth's favorite star is no stranger to me. But only recently did I grow to appreciate the sun.
That appreciation likely grew out of the first week of Dallas County's stay-at-home order, when those first few days brought grey skies and the daily probability of rain, the constantly dreary forecast complementing the mood of catastrophe. I grew up an indoor kid and into an indoor adult, but due to the extended stay-at-home order, I've never spent so much time inside my home as I have during these last five weeks.
If you've just woken from a coma and now find yourself unable to make sense of what's going on—or not going on—around you, let me give you a TL;DR explanation: The world's gone to hell in a relatively short amount of time. We all hope our current reality will be temporary, but there's no denying where we are in this moment.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing the whole “human experience” thing right. The concern usually arises when I'm expected to reminisce and recall specific memories. Ones that some people take for granted.
The catalyst is often an innocent question.
“What's your earliest memory?”
I never know how to answer such a question. I have only the vaguest recollections from kindergarten, let alone anything before. Is there any utility to pushing myself closer to the beginning of my own timeline? I don't see the point, but am I alone?
My son had asked the question so many times whenever we had gone to Frys, but I didn’t know as we got out of the car on a Saturday afternoon and headed toward the store that this trip may be the last time he would ask. I told him I didn’t have any quarters, which was a truth I would later regret.
Perform a quick Google search for the criteria for calling yourself a writer, and you're likely to find any number of requirements. Do you have to be published before you can call yourself a writer? Are you a writer if you pump out genre fiction, or are you a writer only if your works are shelved in literary fiction? Are you a writer only if you obsess over your craft to the point that you neglect everything else in your life—your relationships, employment, and health and hygiene? Are you a writer only if you get paid for your work?
These days Thanksgiving, once my undisputed favorite holiday, is a bittersweet experience. But this holiday will likely have extra bitterness as the day marks the eighth anniversary of my mother's death.
I usually feel like an old man when I remind myself that it's been over 20 years since my mom bought the first family desktop computer in 1998. I don't remember much about the specifications other than the computer was a Compaq with a 3GB hard drive, which the salesman assured my mother was plenty of space, an amount that we would never fill. The computer set my mom back about $1,200. Fast forward to 2019 and my $250 Android phone has 4GB of RAM and an uncompressed 2-hour Blu-Ray movie is over 30GB. The computer salesman obviously didn't foresee the changes in technology when he made his pitch.
When we sit around and think about our own versions of lives well-lived, we most likely envision ourselves elderly and passing away peacefully in our sleep. There's something about leaving this world as an octogenerian that adds a layer of accomplishment to our struggle. I'm guilty of this romanticization on a couple fronts. When I hear that someone over the age of 80 has taken his last breath, I usually respond with something along the lines of That's a good run. Also, when I think of my own end, I hope I will have made the eight-decade club, though the odds may not be ever in my favor based on my family history.
It was lunchtime on November 28 before I realized the significance of the date. The revelation was discovered due to an innocent conversation with a co-worker. Details about certain family history were questioned. I considered my answer, did some quick math, and then realized what would have been obvious and dreaded by most in my situation: It was the seventh anniversary of my mother's death.
Anniversaries of deaths are a strange thing for me. I often forget about them until some well-meaning individual reaches out to me to say that she's thinking about me. I'll ask myself why this person's so concerned before realizing it's the anniversary of someone's last day on this earth. And then I feel bad for not recognizing the date earlier. It's not as if I don't remember because I don't care. In some way, it's quite the opposite. I tend not to dwell on such anniversaries because I miss my deceased loved ones every day. In that sense, the anniversary truly is just another day.
Over many moons now I've asked myself that existential question that every writer asks him or herself: “Why do I write?” Or maybe even more specifically, “Why am I writing about this?” And I've definitely been asking myself that question in regard to this blog and how it's evolved into something deeply personal, something which may turn some people off. Something which at times may concern me. Maybe even scare me a bit. Though hardly anyone reads this blog, it's out there to be found if anyone seeks it. These posts are now public record for anyone to see. This site makes me vulnerable in a way to which I am still adjusting.
After asking these questions about my motivations again and again, I think I've finally come up with an answer that works. After much soul searching, I've concluded that I'm writing to fight loneliness.