When I was young I was a bit of a loner. I generally felt like I was on the edge of the crowd, of any crowd, and the more I tried to fight my way into it, the more I ended up on the periphery. Even though I found others who felt the same, like Steve (and Jason, and Ben and Jake and many others) I came to believe that I was an introvert by nature. It wasn’t until much later, in my twenties, when I took a job in sales and moved to Chicago that I started to better understand the deep craving and need I had to connect with others. I honed that need into an asset. And it led me to realize that the whole time, I’d just been an introspective extrovert, by which I mean I like to talk to other people about myself.
I’m half kidding there.
But only half. The other part of it, well, it might hit closer to home. Couldn’t one argue, after all, that introspective extroversion is precisely what I’m practicing here? Open source diary keeping? A protracted public therapy session as art? Giving away front row seat tickets to a cage match between a writer and his demons?
That would probably be true if it were my story alone, but it isn’t. It’s also the story of the people and places I’ve interacted with along the way, especially those that are, for any number of reasons, unable to tell it for themselves.
I gather and recount their stories, and in doing so, bit by bit, I’m filling in those empty chairs around the table and illuminating the darkness once again. With funny stories. War stories. Love stories. Ghost stories. Entry after entry, until I’ve turned my memory inside out, for all to see. Until my own story becomes the sum of all the characters and curiosities and wonders I’ve chased down or crossed paths with.
I’m wandering this world, collecting myself in experiences like picking up pieces of some massive jigsaw puzzle. Once assembled, will it reveal itself to be a distorted fun house mirror? A postcard from a time and place that I can’t return to? Or will it form the frame of a doorway to something new and as of yet unimaginable?
The only way for us to know is to keep writing, to keep reading, keep searching, alone and together. We’ll get there when we get there and not a moment sooner.