It’s an odd thing to write a blog. “What’s it about?” I get asked by people who have never read it. I usually draw a blank when that happens.
What’s it about? Partly about me and my life. But I want it to be more than that. I want it to be about women’s issues, aging, families, current events, marriage, motherhood, politics. I don’t want it to be a dreary recitation of what I do and where I go and what I think about. I don’t want it to have a single mood. I want it to be multifaceted and entertaining and thoughtful and unpredictable.
I want, I want, I want … Well, sometimes it works the way I want it to and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, I can’t shift subjects and moods the way I’d ideally like to. Sometimes, I get stuck in my life and my blog.
This post, for example. I wanted to tell you about the big wedding we went to for our dear nephew Drew and his new wife, Louise. I wanted to mention the toast I should have made to them, but didn’t. If I’d been on my toes, I would have told them about the wedding I went to a few years back, when the minister told the audience that it was wonderful the bride and groom were so much in love. But wouldn’t it be even better, he continued, if we all gathered again in another 25 or 40 years and said wasn’t it wonderful that the bride and groom were even more in love than they’d been on their wedding day? Wouldn’t that be an even more incredible and touching event to celebrate?
I heard that sermon many years ago, and almost collapsed, sobbing, when I heard it. I wanted to repeat it and have everybody gathered for Drew and Louise to hear it and be moved by it, as I’d been. Widespread sobbing wouldn’t have been mandatory, but it would have been nice. But I didn’t get around to making the toast.
At the wedding reception the next evening, I found myself dancing like a deranged cockatoo to the incredible band — waving my arms, kicking my legs, gyrating shamelessly. There were a lot of photographers around and I’m sure they snapped some shots that could be used as blackmail if my husband or I ever decide to go into politics. I wanted to tell a funny story about that and the red hat I was wearing.
Because, you see, a blog needs to be unpredictable and its moods need to shift relentlessly if it’s going to entertain. Nothing worse than a blog stuck in a single, sad and mopey morass that can’t quite be cleared away. But there my blog is and there I am.
I returned to New York for the few days we have left, naively assuming I had escaped my grief. After all, for two days, I had gorged on great food, drunk too much, seen people I love, felt the enveloping folds of family and friends, danced badly, screamed the lyrics to songs, cried again in a church — this time for something joyous, laughed, told stories. I had gone beyond my sadness, worked through it, moved on.
Except I hadn’t. I find myself seeing my father’s face and recalling memories like the time he cleaned off my front windshield several years ago when I was about to drive back 300 miles after visiting him and my ailing mother. He stayed outside in the heat, working on a collection of dead bugs and smears, till he left the windshield clear and sparkling.
This is love, I remember telling myself. He might not be able to express himself the way I wanted him to, but my father was showing he loved me. And grieving, I assume, is also about love. I keep wanting to move past it in my life and my blog, but why? I’m inclined to think it’s the most important destination any of us have. Where am I trying to rush off to, anyway? And why am I bothering to write if it’s not about this?
(Copyright 2010 by Ruth Pennebaker)
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