I knew her in real life; we were at school together. She was finishing as I arrived. I was too nervous and self-conscious to pay much attention to anyone other than myself and didn’t make friends for quite some time. Her boyfriend considered himself very smart, and perhaps he was. I found him difficult to listen to. Their other friends were loud; she was drowned out. She told us she had been divorced by nineteen. She had a sweet smile. I considered her “nice,” didn’t think much of her. She moved somewhere vague and southern, eventually marrying Smart Boyfriend. They made folksy music and eventually had a baby. So said the grapevine.
One day I found her blog. I don’t remember how I discovered it. I don’t think I was looking for her. She didn’t use her name but I recognized her avatar and story. I read for hours, so disappointed I had never realized how incredible, amazing, talented and strong this young woman was. I was completely captivated by her writing: lush, descriptive, sincere and, above all, honest. She wrote openly of her struggles as a single mom in an unfamiliar rural area living a life different from what she had known. Her world was full of frustrations, but she was never without gratitude, grace, or an undying optimism even in the midst of gloom.
I liked to check in every couple of weeks, see if the potatoes were growing, if her daughter still had the ear infection, if she had been offered that teaching job, if summer mosquitos were becoming too unbearable. This went on for several years.
And then, this summer, it ended. She didn’t actually say goodbye. After a long period of not writing, she talked about meeting and marrying someone, and moving away to a new beginning. That was the end of the blog. She didn’t say it was over, but her site hasn’t been updated for months.
I wish her well, and I miss her.
I could find her and we could possibly be friends; at least, we could reconnect over the people we know in common. Facebook is good for that kind of “relationship.” However, I have no desire for this. One of the beauties of writing is that it allows us to be ourselves in a way that we aren’t capable in real life. I heard this woman’s voice in a way I couldn’t in a noisy bar or a quiet classroom. She was blogging more for herself than any audience, and there’s a precious intimacy a person gifts us with when they let us know them through their writing. For that, I am incredibly grateful.