once upon a time there was a vox blog that became a wordpress blog. it wasn’t entirely sure what it wanted to grow up to be or even if growing “up” were entailed in the process– only that with changing seasons time had come to fall from branches that had held it aloft and fed it on liquid light strained through dirt, take flight, take root elsewhere and stretch toward whatever new sun rose on a persistent tomorrow. flash some new growth for good measure. it expected to encounter weather in due course, stout breezes, occasional cyclones, the odd deluge– maybe it carried around its umbrella rather more than was necessary, but you never know when you’ll need to catch a fresh draft and go flying across the hills for a novel perspective or snatch a fish from the flood, all wriggling and spectrum-spun, or curl in a shapely shadow from the direct glare of daily events. study the different forms of posture and motion available to its occasion and possibly accomplish some understanding in the process.
Eras ending, heydays fading out to make way for the next new thing barreling down the line. So passes away Vox– which has been so many things to so many of us.
In odd synchronicity for me personally, the lifetime of Vox has run nearly parallel with the first stage of my life here in Chicago—my early posts mark the move from Iowa to my new city neighborhood. Writing my way through that transition, I resettled both psychically and geographically, found work of a new and unanticipated variety herding cats on behalf of wallpaper—a job I’ve held since that first summer four years ago and have just recently left for who-knows-what-next. Meanwhile, Chris and I are busy planning our mutual second wedding—done in intentionally markedly different fashion from either of our first weddings—on Friday afternoon, feeling somehow like a dame in a black and white flick from the ‘40s, I met my fiancé downtown at the city offices where we procured our marriage license and civil ceremony date for October at the Tiffany-domed Chicago Cultural Center. Afterward we toasted with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at a shiny downtown bar with, appropriately enough, feature wallpaper booths and the following morning breakfasted at Ohio House, where we went after buying the ring. Parallels abound, both intentional and fortuitous, in times of change. Into the current state of personal/professional transition arrive into my inbox the Vox shutdown notification, quickly followed by neighbor-member farewell and forwarding address notes.
Once upon a time, for a couple of years in the late ’90s, I participated in a small, close-knit virtual mailing list-based community, which I loved dearly. Folks I saw face-to-face only rarely if at all, who lived across a widely dispersed map, became my daily touchstones, virtual neighbors and friends, through the words we crafted in the digital realm. That community saw me through an enormous series of life transitions as well—the ending of my first marriage and move to Iowa and a writing life. In time that beloved community dispersed likewise—its constituent members gone off into entirely other lives, and to a large extent vanished from my own—the coming together real enough, yet wholly comprised by the tenuous connection created by the medium.
In both cases, I’d be remiss if I failed to note the pivotal performance of one particular friend, responsible for this media-nourished conjunction of experiences and identity: dear Michael, whose life I now glimpse across the ether in Facebook flashes.
Labor day weekend is upon us, unemployment and all, and here in Chicago the weather’s shifted without ceremony from sticky hot to crisp cool. Late in the night I wake to find the single light summer cover no longer keeps me warm through the night. Driving through Michigan, we encountered lone trees with leaves turning to fall. How many more ways can the world insist on change without me changing too?
Long ago I created navelgazer.com as a repository for the drifted sift and flotsam of a turbulent mind. For several years now it’s snoozed away with little more than a front page footnote to mark it as I noodle my way through other online writing venues. But the time has come to wake it up and witness what can be built of all its dreaming. I sincerely hope my Vox friends who’ve generously shared so much of themselves and their own journeys will find a way to visit from time to time, as I intend to check in on their new online writings. The truth, I know, is that life, that real, physical, inevitable force, drives us all on in our distinct directions, only occasionally allowing the good fortune of real reconnection in aftermath. In light of which I will now holler out my own gratitude and grief in the passing of this particular place, this sweet Vox with all its riches of connection and connotation. Farewell and my love to all, always.
so in the process of preparing to backup/migrate all of my vox site to wordpress, I’m going through and changing posts and photos marked for friends or neighborhood viewing/commenting only to viewable by anyone– where I can. in a couple of instances I’m removing from online publication altogether where I fear the possible harm done to family feelings might be too great– but in most cases I’m choosing to view this as an honest retrospective history and biting the bullet of making it (mostly) all public. which is a really weird and uncomfortable experience.
one of the big things vox has provided is a semi-private-public space in which to process feelings by making posts publishable only to select designated online friends and neighbors. this capability has, I now realize, resulted in a substantively greater sense of verbal license, a heightened level of honesty and decreased degree of self-editing than would ordinarily be the case.
writing in the semi-public blogosphere has for me constituted an extended exercise in learning about personal truth and narrative boundaries– what is it okay for me to air abroad? what is it okay for the people I care about to read in a public forum? the two things not always being synonymous. in the final, or at least current, analysis I seem to come down on the side of airing rather more overt honesty than is typical. then again, I am, ultimately, a poet and nonfiction writer of the confessional bent. so these are issues that come with the territory.
only here a new twist on that old and recurring theme.