My Year Lurking on the Sidelines

I currently have 30 unpublished drafts in my WordPress repertoire. The most recent is less than two weeks old; the oldest is approaching three years. Some of them are unfinished, and at this point likely never will be. Others are just waiting for me to hit “Publish”. Not even I can articulate why the delay.

There’s one that’s been haunting me though. You see, well over a year ago, a blogger followed me. I got an email from WordPress telling me so and I took its advice and followed the link to one of her posts, which I subsequently really liked. It stuck with me and I ultimately wrote a response post.

But I never published it. See, it was a list kind of thing. Her list had been short and succinct and funny and entertaining and insightful to her personality. My list was, I think, funny and entertaining and definitely insightful to my personality. But it had not been short and succinct. It was bloated and overstated. This in and of itself was insightful to who I am, but it bothered me. So I planned to revisit it and edit it down to something better. That was early April 2014. I edited it some more a month later but was still unsatisfied.

Then something unexpected happened. She started talking about legal troubles, her fight coming to an end, she’d be going to jail. This floored me. This beautiful soul? Going to jail? How can that be? She’s so open, so full of light. This is wrong.

You don’t actually know her, I reminded myself. You don’t know anything about her. Maybe she did do this thing or maybe she didn’t. You just don’t know.

My emotions were in a strange state. Here was a person I didn’t know but still, oddly, had come to care about. I wasn’t interacting with her on her blog – just reading her posts. She wasn’t interacting on mine. We had no relationship, yet I was distressed.

And it clearly seemed like the wrong time to publish my list response to her list. She had bigger problems than things she “irrationally” hated. So I sat on it. And continued to read about her troubles.

Eventually, she went to jail. Her husband posted on her blog periodically about how she was doing. He gave an address for people to write to. So many people were supportive and loved her. It was heart-warming.

I should mail her a print-out of my blog post, I thought. That might brighten her day a bit. Maybe. To know that even a stranger cares. But life is often busy and selfish. I never mailed the post. I thought about her often, but the kind thoughts of strangers does a person zero good if they are unaware of the thoughts.

And then tragedy struck again. Her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly. I don’t recall how the story got out. By then, I had become friendly with folks who all seemed to love this blogger very much. The pain I felt at her husband’s death was real. It didn’t feel like the abstract pain you feel when you hear news of distant death. I felt like a beautiful bird was being weighted down and it simply wasn’t right.

Still, I didn’t mail the post. To mail it then in the midst of all that grief seemed shallow and insensitive. Who wants to talk jovially about irrational hates at a time like that. Besides, who was I to her?

Then, all those mutual friends began to spread the word.

Rarasaur had a release date.

An internet parade of celebration began.

I smiled.

I didn’t feel like I had a right to be part of the celebration. That might seem strange to some, but I had happened upon her too late to develop a relationship before. I wasn’t her friend, virtual or otherwise. She wasn’t mine. She had simply been someone I admired, or whose writing I’d admired, or both. She was someone I had sensed a special spark in, someone I had hoped to get to know better.

And now she was out.

And I was glad.

Not because I could now attempt a relationship, but because she deserved to be out. She deserved for something to go right. She deserved to heal and to return to those people who loved her. And I’ve been enjoying all the grace and beauty I’ve seen from her since.

So here I was today, trying to remember all the blog posts I’d composed in my head over the last week or two, and the only one I could remember even an inkling of was this. To welcome Rara home. And finally share my list. As my silly, inconsequential way of welcoming her back and telling her that she meant something even to people she didn’t know were watching.

The list needs some touch-up. It’s nearly a year and a half old, after all. But I’ll share it soon. Not tacked onto this long post though. It already has its own long-winded intro and doesn’t need another. I’ll add the link here when it’s up though.

Welcome home Rara.

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13 thoughts on “My Year Lurking on the Sidelines

  1. Oh I wish I had the words. Since I don’t, I’ll end up writing a blog post here, ha! I just know it.

    I often spoke of my lurking readers versus my actively-chatting readers. I appreciate and understand both. In some places, I am a chatty cat, and some I am a watcher. It simply depends on factors I couldn’t possibly begin to pin down let alone explain.

    The letters I received from strangers were amazing, regardless of content or length. Sometimes I would sit in my cell, on the concrete floor, and just stare at one. I’d count the little rivets of the stamp, and smell the envelope, and touch the writing. It was surreal. Unreal. Unexplainable. Like a unicorn. “How does this person know this is exactly the right thing?” Your letter would have been welcome.

    But. I understand not sending a letter. One of the things mamasaur always says is that, “For every person who tells you something, there’s 20 others who wanted to say something.” I’d look at the way I ripped open the envelope and think I should open it neater next time, and then wonder if there were others. And what I would do in the reverse. Or what I would believe. I just don’t know. I’d often tell Dave that there were only really a handful of people in the world who know exactly why I went to prison, and what I did and didn’t do. After he died, I thought… there are only a handful of people in this world who really know what I lost. WHO I lost. And because I think we have that sort of thinking in common… I understand the lurking.

    I think I’d have done the same. I would have sat on the sidelines and held the memory of the best moments in my heart, for safe-keeping, because even though my heart is not as effusive or flexible as others– it is strong. Holding on is something I could do.

    And though the active people are credited for pulling me out of my 15 months as a near-replica of who I was, I really do think it was the lurkers who kept my home light on for me. Each of them seeming to store a small piece of me in their very strong hearts. The only disappointing part is that I mostly don’t know.

    So thank you for this post.
    And thank you for saving that draft. And posting it.
    Thank you for holding on and having a strong heart.
    And thank you for the welcome home.

    • You are definitely welcome.

      I am not usually a lurker. I usually just jump right in and say what I want to say without worrying about whether anyone knows who I am. But in your case, things went south just right after I started following you. It’d be like starting a new job and then one of the well-liked veterans is diagnosed with cancer and goes on leave and everyone is talking about it and you just haven’t been around long enough to participate.

      I find even less time to read blogs than I do to write them, but I’ve read several of your recent ones – twice, actually. Once to myself and then today to my daughter. She loves the way you write and so do I. Thank you for the wonderful and thoughtful response.

      • Oh, thank you. I am so glad you enjoy the posts. Most of the time, I’m not sure where they’re going… haha!

        I do understand the timing thing. (If there’s one thing prison highlighted for me… it’s all the different ways of looking at time! 🙂 )

        Well, I for one am glad you’re writing…. and honored you’re reading. *hugs*

  2. What a beautiful honest post. Welcome out of lurkdom, which I totally understand. Sometimes there’s nothing to say, or the right words aren’t there, or we just feel too darn shy. Wish I could ‘like’ Rara’s reply too 🙂
    Alison

    • I loved Rara’s reply too. It was fascinating to me over the last year to see how many people I interacted with, seemingly not connected to each other, who nevertheless loved her.

  3. You know, this is almost to the word, to what I felt. I wrote her letters, thought I could post them from my friend’s house instead of mine (I have to be extremely sure I’m anonymous all the time, partly out of paranoia and partly, being practical). the letters are still in my drawer, since my friend declined. I emailed Dave, when he left the add, hoping that maybe he and Rara would at least smile once. I hope he did, and I hope she does, if she ever finds it.

    The helplessness made it worse. Being too far away to be useful. Start a petition, help out with the fees, anything. Transferring money on the sly got complicated, and then I stopped thinking of ways I could contribute money. But I always thought of her. The days I sat down to pray, she was there in my thoughts. The fact is, she’s this little beacon of light on a vast, vast internet. I doubt she knows how many people laugh with her, how many smile, and how many leave her blog feeling irrationally loved- because she gives love away to complete strangers that way. And the entire concept of justice, or karma, seemed warped, when the court case happened. And then it became a darker universe for us all, when Dave passed away so suddenly. And I cried all of the next day, because it hurt. The idea physically hurt, and none of my friends could understand. No, she isn’t my best friend, or even a close friend. No, we don’t know that much about each other, in fact our conversation has been the sum of a few comments across the interwebs. But that’s the kind of person she is. She inspires love, and it defeated logic that she would find herself having to manage without it.

    But, our Rarasaur’s back now. And there’s a lot of things wrong with the world, but at least there’s one more thing right with it.

  4. I totally get that. I often feel like I am on the sidelines in many social relationships and feel to shy to join them. Anyway, I see you got a great response so good for you for finally coming out of the wood work.

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