in memoriam vox–- and by extension community

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.

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