So here I am getting ready to head south to visit my aunt in Massachusetts over the Christmas holiday, and it feels like when I would try to "straighten up" my life around her. I feel like a high school girl changing my clothes on the bus before and after school so I don't catch hell at home for wearing "unacceptable" attire.
[Aside here - my aunt is the only living member of my biological family with whom I have any contact. She has been the one constant source of love, support and affirmation in my whole life. She's like a mom but with less baggage, like a sister, but from different generations, like a mentor but with blood connections, like a friend but family. Aside from my beloved, she is the most important person in my life. Period.]
She doesn't know about this blog.
Not that she would be horrified, although she might at some of the sex stuff, and put off by some of the language as well. That's not it at all. She'd be thrilled. She'd be delighted. She'd want to read every word. Aha. Exactly. See the problem?
She would not, could not, understand that there are some things so deeply personal that I am comfortable writing about them on the Internet where any number of strangers (that would be you-all) can read them, but I don't want her seeing them. She would be heartbroken that I am not comfortable sharing this stuff with her. She would be mortified to learn that I can talk about sex and bondage, piercings, life as a bartender in a lesbian bar, and radical politics and people she's never heard of like Dorothy Alison, Pat Califia, Susie Bright, and Andrea Dworkin (a certifiable nut) openly, frankly, and with people I have never met in person, who have also shared similar depth of thought and emotion with me via those crazy Internet tubes.
Worse yet, I would be writing things that are being published on the Internet and not in a book that she can buy a hundred copies of and give to her friends.
Because I am a brilliant writer, you see. She knows it for certain and is determined to convince the rest of the world that I am brilliant. Exceedingly brilliant. Clever, witty, funny, and brilliant. Did I mention brilliant? Yeah.
It is really great to have my own personal cheerleader, but it gets tired sometimes. "You're such a good writer" she has told me since I was six. "You should collect your writings into a book."
I think she was happiest when I was a newspaper editor. Once a week I would write a column, sometimes making a stab at humor, sometimes nostalgic, and sometimes getting up on my official editorial soapbox and blasting some politician or policy with everything at my disposal. She loved it all. She read every word and treasured them all. I would always send her the column each week via email and she would invariably send me a note proclaiming how witty, clever, and brilliant ("although your sarcasm sometimes goes a bit far") I am and shouldn't we collect these all into a book? Sigh.
Bless her, she's persistent.
Which is why she does not know of my blog, and which is going to make the coming trip a little awkward. Blogging is a pretty big part of my thought process now. I tend to pepper my conversations with "I read on X blog yesterday..." which invariably leads to the "what's a blog and why don't you have one so everyone will know how great a write you are" conversation. Yeah. So I sneak around like a kid nicking Mom's smokes in high school. I'll have to take my laptop up to the bedroom - the home version of behind the gymnasium - to do bloggy things without getting caught and having to explain my activities. At least my clothes won't smell of smoke this time.
And you know what's funny? I'm not the only one. I've seen several bloggers confess to being closet bloggers. Some people hide their bloggy activities from their employers or coworkers, others hide their efforts from their families. Some have multiple blogs with different parts of their circle of family and friends each knowing only about certain bits. Like hubby knows about the knitting blog but not the blog where she talks about how he snores and is too quick in the on-and-off department. Her mother knows about the grandkids' blogs tracking every cute photo a grandma could want, but never knowing about the desperate housewife blog or the knitter blog because then she'd want to spend hours exchanging patterns and talking yarn or whatever it is knitting bloggers do.
So I feel like I am sneaking around. I'm 43 goddamned years old. I have had my foot-stomping declaration like Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy) confronting Ann Bancroft I don't have room in my life for people who don't respect me and that includes you moment. I have some self-worth these days. I don't do things I dislike just to make other people happy. I try to live life above board, honestly and without shame or regret.
Except I haven't told my aunt about my blog. And I don't think I am going to.
There is a freedom that comes with not telling everything and going about one's business. I don't tell my aunt about a lot of things I do. I do not discus the details of my sex life. I do not tell her about the custom dungeon furniture I design for the BDSM world, and when I make my first piece, I won't be sending her a picture of it with a friend serving as a model. When we attend (hopefully) the Flea in Providence this February, I will simply say that we're going to see some friends, which will be a partial truth.
Now my brain prompts me to consider this shame-based behavior, and I think it could be, had I not done the growth work I've done in the past few years. This is not hiding something I am ashamed of, it is sparing my aunt from things that would be profoundly disturbing to her. It would be torturous for her t0 think that I was "wasting" my writing efforts by publishing things to the Internet instead of a book that she can hold. It would be worse still for her to know that I have been writing in a blog and refuse to tell her how to get to it. That would just be cruel. So I have to sneak around a bit. It seems silly and strange, but that's what I've got to do.
Happy holidays all.