Breadcrumbs

When I deleted my old blog, it had more than 8,000 subscribers.

It was hard to say goodbye to that, but it was important, too. I’d come to have an unhealthy relationship with all things online. I needed to step away, and deleting my blog was one important piece of that stepping toward better.

Unfortunately, it turned out I didn’t have copies of all my most important posts, some of which appeared to be lost to the Internet Archive.

Last night, I was just on the verge of sleep last night when it hit me: I’d gotten dates wrong in a recent post!

No big deal, I thought. I’ll just find the right dates in a minute or two, update stuff, and then it’s Snoozeville for me.

This isn’t, as you might have already intuited, what actually ended up happening.

I said I’d put a Bernie 2020 sticker on my car in Spring 2019.

But that couldn’t have been true, because I’d removed the sticker before Bernie announced his 2020 candidacy in February 2019.

I’d removed the sticker per my husband’s request weeks before Bernie announced. This meant I’d removed the sticker sometime around January 2019. It had been on my car for several months by that point.

But did I put it there November? October? September? Neither my email receipts nor archive.org helped me pinpoint this.

I remembered writing a post entitled “#NotMeUs,” but I couldn’t actually find a copy of the post.

I’d wasted more than an hour by the time I gave up searching last night. I was not going to find either the day or the month during which I’d ordered my Bernie 2020 sticker, and that had to be okay.

I went to bed without the date I sought, but something else good did come from the search.

Before I deleted my old blog, I’d had five WordPress Freshly Pressed/Discovered posts. This means WordPress had shared each of these five blogs on its homepage, highlighting them for other WordPress bloggers and yielding both lots more visits to and lots more great conversations at my blog.

The earlier two of these posts were pretty lightweight. One, “Reading While Walking,” talked about how I only managed to read while walking (the dog) as a new mom.

The other fairly inconsequential post was about … titling posts. I wouldn’t waste ten seconds trying to track that one down.

But the other three? Before last night, I hadn’t been able to find any of them in my previous archive.org searches.

I’d assumed they were lost. Funnily enough, it was only my compulsive, ultimately futile search for a single #NotMeUs post that led me to find copies of three of the posts of which I’m most proud.

In December 2013, I wrote “What Report Cards Can’t Report.”

In this post, I wrote about how unhappy I was to find a report card for my then four-year-old son. At four, it seemed absurd to me that he should be boiled down to individual letters across supposedly distinct domains.

This was when I first faced head-on the idea that humans are captivated by what can be measured, whether or not what’s measurable is remotely important.

Last night, I found this post. I was so happy.

On my birthday in 2014, I wrote my several-years-deceased mom a letter.

We’d shared a birthday, you see. While this had been great when she was young and healthy, it had felt far less great as mental illness and cancer gradually stole her light.

The post, which had 900 likes and hundreds of comments, was easily my most popular.

“Dear Mom” began thusly:

Dear Mom,

I still have two of your voicemails.  Those voicemails riled me up when you left them.

Marry that sweet man of yours! you told me. You loved Anthony the moment you met him. And why wouldn’t you? He exudes loving patience, something you had so little opportunity to experience in your life.

Just drive to Vegas and marry him! you followed up, in your living room, on the phone, in your voicemails. It’s really not that far, and you’ll be glad you did! Even if he’s bad at finances. What couple doesn’t argue over money?

I grumbled that I’d stop taking your calls if you kept trying to push marriage on me. You knew that wasn’t what I wanted.

I’d hid under the table as your own husband beat you black and blue. I’d heard your screams as you tried to keep him from hurting my siblings and me, too.

I’d absorbed every single word of blame others spoke not only when you tried to leave, but afterward, too:

You should’ve left sooner!

You should never have left!

He wouldn’t have beat you if you’d been a better wife!

I never wanted that. Never. And isn’t abstinence the best protection? Never marry and there’s no need for escape.

In this post, I shared moments with my young sons, concluding with so. much. love. for this woman whose courage had made any kind of success possible for me.

Last night, I found this post. I was so happy.

In March 2016, I wrote “Musical Breadcrumbs.”

I wrote about how parenting two children had made me profoundly more introverted, so that I pretty much stopped listening to music at all. I needed quiet, man! Just a little bit of quiet. Please?!

In this post, I wrote about how a blogging friend had taken my husband to see Springsteen one week.

That’s right.

The Boss.

I wrote about how this rocked me.

My mom had always played music for and with me.

Like I explained in “Dear Mom,” I’d always been able to find Mom in certain songs.

But in which songs would my own sons find me, someday? I was stricken to realize the answer was: None.

i am an introvert,
and i rarely play music at home,
which seemed just fine until
i heard “atlantic city” yesterday
and understood my sons
would have little idea
what to put on
my memorial soundtrack,
my not having shared music
with them
the way my mom
shared it with me

I had never played music with my sons the way my mom had played it with me.

I knew I needed to change that, and I did. But I’d forgotten how.

Last night, I found this post. I was so happy.

Last night, I did not find the date—or even the month—I put that Bernie 2020 sticker on my car.

Did that mean the evening was a wash?

Nope.

No.

Never.

I didn’t find what I was looking for, that’s for sure: a rough date that would’ve changed nothing, meant nothing.

I did, however, find something better:

Breadcrumbs to who I used to be–breadcrumbs leading me to what’s still possible, if I only remember to stop reaching quite so hard for what I only think, for this moment, I need, and reach instead for what I actually do.

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