I wrote my first blog post five years ago today.
Five years. It's wild. It was a lifetime ago. It was yesterday.
Gwuinifer was the first person to post a comment on the blog and I was astounded that somebody was reading what I wrote. I think that for a long time she was one of the only people who read what I wrote. In those days, nobody in my real life knew about my blog and most of my posts yielded few, if any, comments.
I'd started blogging as a means of sorting out my thoughts, but communicating with Gwuinifer opened my eyes to the possibility that blogging could be more - that it could connect me to other people who were travelling similar paths. But even with that realization, I never really imagined how important those connections would become to me.
Gwuinifer and I haven't stayed in touch, though I still pop over to her blog now and then to see if she's posted any new pictures of her beautiful children. And there have been other bloggers (and commenters and non-commenting, e-mailing readers) over the years with whom I've connected, then drifted. But there have been even more bloggers and commenters and e-mailing readers who have become an integral part of my life, and upon whose wisdom I have come to depend.
At some point in the past five years, I also started sharing my blog with people I knew - tentatively at first, because I was afraid that mentioning my blog to people would make me seem self-indulgent. But people were gracious and encouraging. They began passing the link on to other people. For a long time, I thought I was living safely under a shroud of pseudonymity, until one day, a colleague stopped me at the salad bar at work and said "I love your blog."
At first, the thought of being "known" was jarring - even panic-inducing. But then I came to realize that the blog helped people to see Bud differently. Reading about our challenges helped people in our lives know how to reach out and offer support. I began to see how, in very tangible ways, the blog was making a difference in our lives. And so, over the past five years, I've loosened my death-grip on anonymity and that freedom has allowed for even more connection and even greater depth.
My life outside the blog has changed in the past five years as well. It's changed in some big, huge, tangible ways - like, I was married five years ago, and now I'm not. And it's changed in some smaller, but significant ways as well. Five years ago, I'd never heard of Dierks Bentley, and if you'd asked me, I probably would have said I wasn't really into country music. Five years ago, I'd never taught a writing course, and if you'd asked me, I probably would have said I wasn't really a writer. Five years ago, I wrote that I saw Bud's PDD-NOS diagnosis as a "sweatshirt-that-never-really-fit-right-but-is-the-right-weight-for-this-weather-so-I'll-wear-it-cause-it's-better-than-nothing." Now, I see it as his skin. Five years ago, I was preoccupied with concern about causation and cure. Now, I am motivated by ideas about education and support.
Of course, the biggest changes I've seen over the past five years have been in Bud himself. When I started writing, he was five years old and in preschool. Today, he participated in his fourth grade music class recital, singing "Trying To Stop Your Leaving" to his class through the microphone of his karaoke machine. Five years ago, his spontaneous language was limited and making meaning of his echolalia-based speech felt like sheer Holmesian deduction. Now, though Bud still loves a mitigated script, we are able to have full reciprocal conversation. Five years ago, Bud's whole world revolved around the Teletubbies. Now, though he still loves "the guys," he says he prefers his real-life friend.
We've been through a lot in five years: a lot of challenge, a lot of upheaval, a lot of triumph. And it's hard to look back on the past five years of blogging without starting to wonder what the next five years will hold. But I remember someone commenting to me during a particularly difficult time in my life that it's a good thing we never know what life has in store for us, because if we knew what was coming, we'd be sure we couldn't handle it. Since then, I've tried not to project myself too far into the future, for fear of creating unreasonable expectations or self-imposed limitations by presupposing what the goals should be or by failing to imagine possibilities.
But still. In five years, Bud will be fifteen and I will be the mother of a high schooler. And what about you? Will we all still be here, floating around together in the blogosphere? Or will we have become like Gwuinifer and me - people with fond memories who used to be in touch?
One way or another, let's make a plan. Let's plan to meet back here five years from now. I'll write down the password and tuck it away somewhere, so that if I've stopped blogging by then, I'll still know how to log in. We can all gather here in my virtual living room, pour some coffee, reminisce and catch up. What do you say? Are you in?
We may not know what else the next five years will bring, but one thing's for sure: February 9, 2015? That's going to be a heck of a time.