Darning Her Socks in the Night When There’s Nobody There

Deep Knee Bends, Part 1

I keep wondering if I am writing for me– you know, just to playback or appease the voices in my head– or if I really just want to carve my X on the page.

And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand.
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

— The Goo Goo Dolls

Blogs used to be a journal place. They weren’t media space. But now everybody is jumping up and down in cyberspace trying to get Adsense and Strangers to shower them with attention.

I remember those weeks just before I finally got a cell phone. I recall all the snobber-ish thoughts I had. I would drive between my house and the Cup and Saucer, see someone talking on a phone in their car as they sped by, and think: “Look at those lonely people. They can’t even bear to be by themselves for a moment, not even in the car on the ride home.” Then I got one and vowed never to use it for anything but 911 calls. Then, well, not to use it in the car. Then, well, to only use it on speakerphone in the car. Then, well…

I remember when blogs were still something only 14-year-old girls only did because they were bored. I thought: “Why would anyone want to post their private, personal thoughts online for the world to read? And anyway, who the hell would want to read them anyway?” I kept thinking: When will the internet ever be full? I thought the mining might end when people are satisfied and stop feeling lonely.

In my backyard, between two scrubby deciduous trees, there’s a really beautiful blue spruce. It’s straight and perfectly conical, the way you want a blue spruce to be: wide at the bottom with soft-looking branches that climb to a perfect, heavenward point. When I look out my window, it’s always the first thing my eye goes to.

But I notice that vines are sticking out of it– that sort of “I’m in charge here now” weed that strangles anything it grows next to. Not quickly. Not obviously. Quietly, so no one and nothing will notice.

Loneliness is that weed. It grows fast and it isn’t discerning. It likes to boss you around and it isn’t always easy to spot. Some plants, like the blue spruce, get along fine with it around them. Others don’t.

One thing I know well about that weed: you just have to mind it. It’s long and tangled, but its root doesn’t hold too well. Yank it down, pull up the root and yes, it will probably grow again. But in the meantime, the tree thrives and breathes and forgets.

It forgets, the way we forget the moment we are well how miserable a common cold made us.

Better to save our memory space for how to cast off a stitch, old lovers and planting narcissus bulbs.

When everything seems like the movies
Yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive

— The Goo Goo Dolls

Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

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