Hello? Can You All Still Hear Me…?

It’s been three years since I’ve regularly posted here.

I’ll be honest with you — I’m not sure I remember how to do this.

I just finished writing 99,000 words, locked in the 1700s with characters who speak another language, live in another culture, and who are traveling on horses and mules 1500 miles to the promise land of California. I’ve just lived this amazing adventure, and I’m not sure how to come back here to my blog.

I’m having a hard time returning to the 21st Century.

But do you blame me?

This 21st Century isn’t easy to live in. There’s lead in the drinking water in Michigan. People are getting shot every day. There are hurricanes and Zika-bearing mosquitos in Florida, wild fires and earthquake warnings in California, 24 hour coverage of the nastiest political race that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime…and when I try to look away, to seek some solace in the words of my fellow 21st Century travelers on Facebook, Twitter, and in the blogs, I find sarcasm, snark, and insults. Sometimes even threats. It’s hard to stay positive with everything going on in the modern world around us. Harder still for a recovering agoraphobic to want to step out there into the middle of it all.

Some days I ask myself: Why aren’t there more agoraphobics in this 21st Century? After all, there’s nothing you can’t order online and have it delivered to your home. There’s no reason to go to the grocery store, the mall, the movie theater, or anywhere you need to purchase goods or content as long as you have the internet to do your shopping for you. There’s telecommuting for work, online courses for school and college, religious services, and dating. What’s the reason to ever step outside of our homes? To go out in the middle of such heartache and angst? Shouldn’t we all be hiding underneath our covers, cowering with fear and disgust? What pushes us out there every day? What gives us the faith to keep looking for the good in our world?

While writing this, I asked myself those questions. What makes me go out my front door every day, when I could stay warm and protected inside my house, with my imagination keeping me company, and without risking some unknown danger lurking outside?

The answer came easily – I didn’t have to look far.

Brown eyes.

These brown eyes…

stokely-headshot

This is my grandson, Stokely.

He was born in April, at the same hospital where my own son was born. It wasn’t planned that way – it was just one of those sweet quirks of Fate that make you smile and say, “Awwwww.”

If I stay hidden in my world, I will never have the chance to experience Stokely’s world. What I see when I look into those deep brown eyes are what make me forget about all the bad things that go bump in the night. This crazy-at-times 21st Century is his century too. Together, we have to navigate it. He knows no other century, no other world, and this crazy-by-my-terms 21st century is where he will be the most comfortable. Where I hope we can always make him feel comfortable. And above everything else—safe.

I’m working on that.

And that’s what gets me out the front door. Every. single. day.

What gets you out of your front door?

19 thoughts on “Hello? Can You All Still Hear Me…?

  1. What gets me out the front door? Curiosity, a longing for some fresh air and a higher heartbeat, but mostly the same hopes and aspirations—for all our grandchildren—that you express so well. I’m looking forward to reading your story of the 1700s.

    • Curiosity, that’s a big yes! That works for me, Fred. And Stokely, of course. Just seeing him meet the world, and seeing that smile he always seems to have for everything and everyone re-ignites my passion again for the world.

  2. Hope and faith get me out the door. Hope that I can make life better for somebody and faith that The Devine will guide us to do better.

  3. Hi Darlene! Congratulations on your growing family!!

    I wake up most (all) mornings feeling that pressure of “trying again” to feel good, to enjoy the idea of getting out the door, to shake the anxiety and whatever else I open my eyes to daily. Hate it! Could it be that the reason our society (or most now, I suppose) has SO many facilities set up for us to live our lives pretty much online while hidden behind closed doors is that it reflects the agoraphobia we all DO have going on even if we don’t acknowledge it? I’m just thinking…

    What can — but not always, honestly — get me right out the door is my athletic “stuff”: the running, swimming, and dancing. The paddling. I love it all. Yet even then, unless I am 100% alone (which I almost never am), I feel the very heavy weight of the “sarcasm, snark, and insults” — or the ever-present potential of it — as well as a sense of threat just Being out in the world. It’s a creepy thing, and all people who don’t deny their inborn sensitivity are subject to the sword of this really overarching feeling. I don’t care for it…

    But like you, I’m working with that to see and to live a totally different way.

    Thanks so much for posting this!! Welcome Back!!!

    • Thanks, Lynne for your welcome, and for your great thoughts and comments. You are so articulate about that conflict between wanting to stay in our own personal cocoons and going out there into the unknown. And I agree with you: Being physical definitely helps. You’re such a great athlete, and while I don’t run I do love to go to my park and walk, walk, and WALK. Pushing myself away from the screen and the online world really can be difficult at times, but it’s so important that we do. It changes our perspective from being so introspective to coming out of ourselves and into a world actually inhabited by others. We’re the only generation that’s had to face this tension between online existence and living within the physical world, and as VR (Virtual Reality) starts to really take off, this conflict will become even more problematic. I have a friend who is so involved with Second Life reality (online) that his muscles have atrophied and he has trouble walking. Getting out is crucial for our mental health, as well as for our physical well being.

  4. Hi Darlene. I think for me it’s stubbornness! As you may remember, I am a fellow agoraphobic. Although I haven’t had panic attacks or stayed in my home due to fear for many years, I am now stuck in my home because the last brain surgery took away my ability to drive and there is no mass transit in this town. But I keep trying. I am still hoping for enough recovery to drive again (although I never did get great at that once I suffered agoraphobia for a decade)…and I think about those in other countries who are committed to living their lives regardless of the threat of suicide bombers…they continue to frequent restaurants and clubs and go on living their lives. They don’t even know it but they give me courage. I hear ya’ Darlene…and I can’t wait to read another one of your books!!

    • Driving is my Achilles heel, Linda. I have some periods when I just can’t do it. Other times I love the sense of freedom that comes when you’re behind that wheel, and one of your favorite tunes is on the radio. It takes me back to when I was a new sixteen-year-old and driving for the first time felt like that rush you get when you first dive into a swimming pool on a hot day. Now, not so much. But I keep doing it – I keep trying – and I try not to judge myself and think of myself as less for not being able to do it all the time. Courage is the word – you’re right!

  5. I loved this Darlene. I am so glad that you are back to blogging!! You definitely raised a valid point. It’s scary to think of these little ones growing up mentally and physically healthy, if things do not improve in the next 50 years. I’m looking forward to reading your blog, hopefully weekly?

    • I can’t promise weekly, but I’ll try to post something every two weeks. My Momma used to tell me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That’s the way I feel about blogging – unless I find something good I can share with everyone, I’ll just sit quietly and keep my words to myself, until I do.

  6. Welcome back to blogging. I sounds like your novel about the migration to California kept you busy and challenged. That is what we all need, is a challenge.

    As a retiree, people expect I am bored and can run errands for them. There is no reason to be bored if we engage in the activities we love. In my case that is running, gardening, beekeeping, and writing.

    • Thanks, Reynold, for your comment! You sound as though your retirement is keeping you everything-but bored. Beekeeping sounds fascinating! Our neighbor across the street used to do that. With everything you’re busy doing I can see you have no trouble motivating yourself to get out there every day. Keep doing it and say no to running errands!!!

      • You mention in the post that your novel involved people speaking different languages. That is a good challenge to any writer. I have written several manuscripts for stories with the setting here in New Mexico. A large segment of the population is bilingual (Spanish-English) and Spanish is the primary language for many. There are also a few people who do not know enough English to communicate well. Spanish is spoken frequently.

        Thus in these stories I occasionally have a character say something in Spanish. It is a challenge to use Spanish dialogue in such a way that the English speaking reader understands what is going on. The challenge doubles up for me, because my command of Spanish is somewhat primitive. The dictionary helps, but the biggest challenge is to remain grammatical in both languages.

        The multilinguistic dialogue is fun because it allows the heroine (English only) to say, “I’m scared” and her horse turns left thinking she said, “Ala izquierda” or “to the left”

  7. Hi Darlene! Your Grandson is adorable – Enjoy him! I’ve heard from my friends who are Grandparents that it is one of the greatest joys! Maybe one day – I’ll find out for myself. But in the meantime I enjoy their stories and pictures – like yours❣️

    As a person who deals with agoraphobia – I would say what gets me to go out into the world are people. I truly enjoy seeing my friends, co-workers and family. I always say I’m an introverted extrovert! I have also embraced the fact that after all these years I’m never going to be the adventurer/traveler/spur of the moment person i so admired in others. Small steps in this big world is the way i roll.

    Thanks again for your words and see you on the computer!

    • Thank YOU, Millie, for your wonderful words. Yes, Stokely is definitely a great joy and I feel blessed to have him in my life. And I agree with you: people get me out into the world. Although, I must admit that when I was younger (and battling agoraphobia with a vengeance) I learned how to give great parties at my house. That was the one way I could be sure that I’d see my friends! Now, I’ve learned to get out more to have a coffee with a friend or two, or to spend a little time with them outside of my house. I still love to throw parties, though, but now that I’m busier going out more I don’t have the time (or energy) to throw those parties anymore. “Small steps in this big world is the way I roll” is now my new motto – credited to you, of course.

  8. Darlene, Iso enjoy your blog. My brother tells me he is having a wonderful time being involved in your discussions about Rosa. I look forward to meeting you but my trips to SB are curtailed for a time because I am taking care of my new granddaughter.

    >

    • Congratulations on your new granddaughter! Our next generation is really growing – Four babies (including our own grandson, Stokely) have been born this year, all within months of each other, and all boys. So your granddaughter is a welcome addition to our family history.

  9. Congratulations, Darlene! As well as a charming smile your grandson has an enquiring look, which bodes well for his future. With such a courageous grandmother behind him, he’s sure to meet all the challenges of his generation with great panache. My wife and i have a granddaughter and grandson who are very much around us on our current visit.They are teenagers now and their activities certainly help to keep up our interest in a world that is apparently becoming increasingly hostile to much that we’d probably all associate with plain sanity. Grandchildren are, indeed, a boon. May God bless them all.

  10. Thrilled to see this post especially with your precious grandson! He just may be the answer you needed to hold onto the craziness and zaniness of life since he will be looking at you wondering how he is suppose to act. right!!!! On that note, I better never have any grandchildren! haha

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