As it happens, I’ve been writing a lot lately.
We’ve been in the new house since April and with the head start we got on unpacking over the course of a Lenten season spent getting the new space settled while prolonging our stay with my in-laws a few weeks longer, things that had been packed up for well over 16 months were suddenly thrust back into my life. Things that I’d forgotten we owned, some things that have been discarded since, and some things I’m surprised I’d lived without.
When I came upon the journal I’d been keeping on and off since 2001, about a third of it as-of-yet unfilled, it immediately occurred to me how much it constituted the latter, the kind of thing that is good to have around for those moments of existential crisis that require a well-rolled joint and a trip down memory lane. A marker of the kind of habit I always promise myself I’ll form but only succeed in doing briefly, in spurts.
It being a pandemic and the late 30s version of myself being an aspiring adult human with adult coping mechanisms, finding a leather-bound journal with pages to fill was too tempting to pass up. Even for someone as notoriously lazy and scatter-brained as me.
So, I’ve been writing. Usually a couple times a week. Sometimes briefly, sometimes at length. I’ve been reading things I wrote years ago, too. Things I wrote stoned on my friend’s couch in Riverside while procrastinating on law school applications. Things I wrote after passing the Bar exam, after getting married, after finding out I was going to be a father. Shitty things and embarrassing things and things I barely remember feeling and things I remember like they’re still happening right now. And the additions I’ve been making, the rambling mess of apprehension and fear and hope and desperate longing for something to break through this flimsy sheen of contempt I feel towards [gestures wildly] everything.
I’ve been playing with ideas for a story I’m developing. A story about the son of Clarence, the angel from It’s a Wonderful Life, a half-angel, half-human staffer at a private agency that has been hired to handle outsourced miracles and other moments of heavenly grace following God’s decision to retire. It’s a stupid idea that makes me laugh and I love spending time on it.
I’ve been writing about what it’s like waking up every day in the midst of global and national disaster knowing that the government is riddled with not just incompetency, but the kind of rank commitment to debased human indecency that we used to only read about in history books. I've been writing about the ever-present malaise of hopelessness that has settled in among people I love and admire and how desperately unfair this whole fucking country insists on being.
And, as it’s been since I graduated law school – and, in a way, for a while before that, too - writing remains my craft, the way I help pay the bills and make myself indispensable as an attorney.
All of this is a roundabout way of noting, yes, I know it’s been a while. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to express, it’s just that I haven’t cared much to share it. Well, not here at least.
Truthfully, the idea of operating a sports website during a global pandemic while America cries out for justice has seemed trite, at best. And truthfully, it’s been on that track for a while, so I can’t make any promises about words I write finding their way to this corner of the internet with anything approaching frequency. When Deadspin crumbled and then was rebooted as a shitty Disney Z-O-M-B-I-E-S version of itself, it was hard not to take it as a sign that maybe that era of the internet is over. The era where longform writing could be the thing that saves us from the heavy burden of mediocrity that has invaded legacy media; where we find online friends who bond with us over our love of obscure prose covering topics trivial and enormous and everywhere in between. I had at least two early drafts of pieces saved, mid-thought, from the Bills run last season but finishing them seemed pointless after my hangover the next day.
And that's not even counting the various, pressing life events that have found their way into my chronology, making the practical question of how to find time to write here all the more complicated. Two hospitalizations, almost dying three times in 12 months, a move from New Jersey to Massachusetts, with new jobs to boot. Yet operating this site, even its skeleton crew version, remains a thing I insist on doing much to the annoyance of my wife who rightly questions the random hosting fees and domain registration fees since, well, “I thought you guys had quit that nonsense already.” Babe, you see what had happened is, we haven't?
It’s hard not to be nostalgic for a thing, even if it’s mostly nostalgia for the idea of what it could have been.
So why now? Who knows. Surely part of me sees this 5-2 Bills team and wonders whether I shouldn’t start scratching that itch since it could be fun to get frisky with some wordplay over the course of a wild Josh Allen playoff run. Surely part of me also sees Liverpool, playing twice a week in front of stadiums empty of fans, defending Champions of England, and wonders whether I wouldn’t get some cathartic release out of running on sentences about how the pandemic has forced us to confront just how crucial sports and the celebration thereof can be as one of the last places where community bonds can breathe and thrive.
Surely part of me sees how isolating life can be from our little corners of this world in crisis, and wonders whether giving the words I write a little sunlight might be part of how I get through these next few months.
Surely all of the above. For the time being, maybe it's just that one of those blog hosting fees just auto-renewed and it felt a little bit like finding that journal except I’m not sure whether it’ll be the death rattle before we fold this thing and pack it away forever, or the moment I relearn what it was about writing in this space that made it the thing I chose to do with so many of my free hours during one of the more fun times of my life. The moment I take note of my surprise at how I lived without.
I suppose we shall see.