The Big Five
Today, February 7, 2009, is the fifth anniversary of this blog. The very first post, “About the Owner,” made its debut on this date in 2004.
I am the first to admit that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started this blog. I had a modest little logo and a mostly light gray background. From there, I was pretty much winging the whole thing.
There’s never any way to know who will read what you have to say when you start a blog, so it’s always hard to know exactly what you should write about. Yeah, there’s that mantra of writing for yourself and letting your audience find you, but that’s pretty intimidating when you look at a blank blog and contemplate your first few entries.
In some ways, 2004 doesn‘t seem that far away. In other ways, it feels like nearly half a lifetime ago.
In February of 2004, I was in my second year at a television station in Richmond, Virginia. It was the second station I had worked for, and it was the first time I had lived outside of South Carolina. I think the main reason I started the blog was to give myself something to do in the absence of my best friends, Chip and Lynne, who I had left behind in Columbia.
No, writing a blog in no way took their place. It didn’t even come close as a substitute. Never will, nor did I expect it to. Chip and I, at the time, had known each other for close to 13 years, and we had worked together for 10 of them. During about three of those years, we worked together and were roommates. Needless to say, I got used to him being around.
I’m still close to Chip and Lynne and the entire Hansen family, and I’m grateful for that close relationship every day of my life.
It’s rare for me to make a really strong personal connection with someone. Yes, you’ve heard plenty about my friends Chip and Archie over the past few years. These are two guys that I depend on, that I know that no matter what, I can always count on. They have been there for me in ways many other people haven’t, and I don’t deserve them.
I’m an only child, and they’re the closest I’ll ever get to real brothers, and if I’d had a real brother, I couldn’t possibly love him any more than I love these two guys. (And yes, at times, they must endure me getting a little mushy with them. It goes with the territory, and they have been extraordinarily patient with me in such matters.)
I feel the same way about their whole families. These are extraordinary people that I am blessed to know. When I sit in the kitchen with Chip’s mom, I’m suddenly a Hansen. And when I have coffee with Archie’s dad, he makes me feel like a Jackson.
That kind of friendship is too rare these days. Far too rare.
Over these five years, I’ve also made some online friends. The majority of them are people who have been reading for a while, but whom I haven’t ever met in person. There are really only three or so that I’ve even talked to on the telephone. One of my longest-running readers, and one I have talked to by phone and countless emails and comments back and forth, is Carly of Ellipsis.
Carly and I began our blogs back when they were called journals, back when America Online had a little thing that was affectionately known as “J-Land,” the bandwidth occupied by people like us who wrote about whatever was on our mind, not entirely sure of why anyone else would possibly care. Carly was one of the earliest J-Landers, so it always felt like I had a celebrity reading my blog when she’d stop by. It still does.
I single her out not to make anyone else feel neglected, but to point out that someone can touch your life deeply even if you’ve never met them in person and looked them in the eye.
As with “real life,” friends have come and gone over that time. Some have vanished after much fanfare. Others just quietly drifted away, and by the time I missed them, they were long gone. I wonder where they are, how they are, and what they’re doing. And I hope we’ll cross paths again.
There are a handful whose absence was either necessary or mutually agreed upon. No need in bringing up the past in detail, but I still read what they have to say, and I wish them well, too. Even they have managed to teach me important lessons along the way.
To you, who have graciously read this far, I want you to know that I value that. I am trying my best to do a better job of commenting on the blogs of my commenters. That’s a big deal to me, and to be honest, I‘m genuinely lousy at it. It bothers me. A lot.
I’m trying to do better.
But no matter how bad I am at returning the comments, I appreciate yours. When I’m down, you say nice things to lift me up. When I’m happy, you say nice things to share the moments with me. And once in a while, a few of you throw in a few snarky words just to mix it up.
Makes life interesting, I suppose.
In all honesty, I never thought there’d be a fifth anniversary of this blog. The third anniversary surprised me. (Okay, the second was a major shock, for that matter.) It’s actually easy to be a slacker on a blog. You don’t get paid for this, after all. It’s all volunteer work. But as volunteer work goes, it can be very rewarding, between interaction with other people from all walks of life who you discover aren’t as different as you think they are, and learning new points of view you hadn’t considered before.
I won’t dwell on the concept of “neighborhoods” that I used in the anniversary post I did for J-Land a few years back. You can read that one again here if you’d like to relive it. But I’m still happy to have neighbors that stop by from time to time.
So what about 2014? That does sound like it’s a long way off. Am I still going to be doing this little endeavor in five years? I hope to be. And I hope you’ll still be reading.
Thanks, everyone, for five great years. And the adventure continues….