Happy birthday to my blog, which is now old enough to take its first wobbly steps and gum a fistful of vanilla cake to a slobbery pulp. That is to say: this blog is one year old!
It’s been one year since I published my first post, a rambling little introduction to my blog and myself where I attempted to predict what this blog would become. I had graduated from college the previous May with a degree in creative writing. The course I completed was a highly selective thesis program in which I worked one-on-one with my professors to assemble a manuscript of short fiction. In my mind, this was enough to qualify me as an accomplished writer, and accomplished writers all have their own websites.
So I decided to create this blog, a little space on the Interweb where I thought I could tout my impressive (lol) writing credentials. I dedicated a page to my published work, the immortal words of Sydney Hartle (that’s me). [Editor’s note: this is a tongue-in-cheek joke. If you click the link, you’ll see that I only have three published pieces.]
It was June. I had just gotten back from a whirlwind trip around England and Russia (with a 24-hour side trip to Dublin, Ireland) that lasted a month, but for some reason I deemed that unworthy of a blog post at the time. I’m not sure what I thought I would write about. I think maybe I thought the ideas would just come to me. I was a writer, after all. My shiny new bachelor’s degree said so!
But the ideas, shockingly, did not just come to me.
Instead, I went a good month and a half after the birth of my blog without posting anything. I absolved myself of all guilt for this by telling myself I didn’t have time to blog. It was the August after I had graduated and I was still jobless. I was still living in my childhood bedroom for Chrissakes! How could I be expected to blog when I was so busy refining my resume, applying for jobs, and sending follow-up emails to companies that didn’t want me? And worse: what could I be expected to write about when my life felt like it was at a standstill?
Then I was apparently feeling inspired, because I posted a bizarrely impassioned piece about why I love GMOs. This is, of course, how I found my chief readership of avid agricultural scientists. (Just kidding.)
Somewhere along the line I found my footing. Not in life. I was still unemployed and living with my parents, but my shameful discontent led to my first good post, a short creative essay about riding my bike and looking like a really cool eighth-grader at the age of 23.
I still wasn’t hearing back from the corporations whose entry-level job postings I was apparently unqualified for, but I was writing short stories and posting them to my blog, which made me feel like maybe I could make something of my life.
Summer gave way to fall, and when I still didn’t have anything resembling a future laid out for myself, I threw my efforts more stubbornly into my writing. September was my most prolific month of blogging. It was the month I wrote my most-viewed scrap of flash fiction, a micro-story about two siblings playing in a dirty river. I wrote about myself and my love of words. It felt like I had found my voice, even if I hadn’t found a following.
In October I thought I should diversify my posts, so I shared some writing advice a former professor had given in my first fiction workshop.
Then things started getting fuzzy. I felt that cyclical creature that is my depression gnawing at my feet. I tried to ignore it, popping my Lexapro with renewed worry and giving the beast a kick when I had the strength. But the days grew so cold and the nights so long that I didn’t have the energy anymore. It overtook me, and my winter became an agonizing blur.
I stopped posting on the blog. Still, life happened. I got my first grownup job as an internal communications writer in a corporate office near my hometown. I went on a first date that never turned into a second. I dyed my hair darker. I might’ve even flossed my teeth once.
I tried to minimize the burden of my depression for my family as much as possible, but it was tense since I was still living with them. Interacting with the world was agony, but I was still finding solace in literature at that point. I read four books in January.
I knew I had slipped too far away when I couldn’t read anymore. Even watching television had become too taxing. Nothing made me feel anything. My only emotions were misery and guilt, and everything else was the deafeningly painful absence of emotion.
I saw a therapist once every other week. I did yoga. I slogged through work and I berated myself for every human interaction I botched. I went on three dates that never turned into a fourth. I survived. And I surprised myself by writing about my depression, or, rather, the murky space between depressed and not that I was starting to find myself in.
That was last month.
Recently, I’ve switched antidepressants. The world looks different to me. Michigan summer is upon us and the days are tolerably long once again. I’ve been reading and I’m keeping track of what.
Back in my very first post (did I mention that was one year ago?) I said I had “an insatiable need to see the world.” At the time, I had no idea the world would become so heavy and uninviting, that it would morph into an abstract concept I wouldn’t have the energy to unpack or even begin to understand.
But then, at the time when the world seemed so dark and far away to me, I had no idea that my “insatiable need” to explore would come back either.
Here we are in June of 2017 and I’ve been taking on last June’s mantel without even realizing it. At the beginning of the month, I renamed my blog Antipodal Pull to reflect the way I feel the Earth pulling me onward to new adventures. I mean that in the sense that I’m drawn to the idea of transplanting myself in the world, seeing a new place and understanding my new place in it. I want to move abroad, swim in saltwater, climb a mountain, scream from atop it. I think I wanted all that a year ago too.
One year later, I’m finally ready to listen to the call to action, to concede to that antipodal pull. I’m ready to conquer the world.