Well, this damn cough did me in for a second weekend. I had been looking forward to this weekend almost as much as last weekend's wedding.
Walt's cousin Ernie Baur and his wife Lucille, two of my favoritest people in the world, were in town from Maryland. They had been to So. California and are flying back home again tomorrow, but they came north to spend a day with Walt's brother and his wife, Walt and me, Ned and Walt's sister and her husband. We were going to celebrate Alice Nan's 70th birthday (Feb. 12) and Walt's 75th (Feb 26).
The plan was to go to San Francisco and walk around all day, have Irish coffee at the Buena Vista (where it was invented), and then return to Norm & Olivia's to have dinner.
I already knew that walking around San Francisco all day was not going to work for me, so my plan was to stay at Norm and Olivia's for the day while the rest of them went to play. Walt said we would have to leave by 8 a.m.
I got up at 6:30 to get my hair washed, and change into clothes for lounging about for the day. I packed up my iPad, got my book, and was ready and waiting for Walt to finish his breakfast.
While I was sitting there, I continued coughing and coughing and coughing. The bad kind of cough where there is phlegm in your lungs and you can't bring it up and the trying doubles you over until you feel like you're going to vomit.
"What am I doing?" I thought to myself. I was going to spend the day spreading germs around Norm and Olivia's house and when everybody got home, I was going to try to visit with them while coughing my lungs out. NOBODY was going to be happy to see me, for sure!
So, sadly, once again I backed out of something I had been looking forward to for several weeks and Walt went off without me.
There were all sorts of things I was going to do in between coughing attacks (I can actually go for 2-3 hours without coughing at all, but then it all comes back again). First I thought I'd watch a movie, so I chose Kinky Boots, which I loved.
Then I was going to do something but first I had to check Facebook.
Lo and behold, someone had started a group called "Old School On Line Journalers." It was for people who were, many years ago, very active in journaling (before "blogs" came along) and who may or may not still be writing.
Oh. my. word.
Out of the woodwork they came. All those names I knew so well from the late 90s and early 200s. People I met at the second Journalcon, a convention of on-line Journalists held in San Francisco, where I read one of my entries, thinking it was hilariously clever, only to have it bomb.
It was such fun to see all those familiar names again, and yet it brought back all those feelings of being on the outside watching all the cool kids. The fact that most of the posts I made in the various conversations seem to have been ignored just reinforced the feeling I had when I was at Journalcon.
I've never done parties or groups well. It's why I have a camera. I can find pleasure photographing all the cool kids interacting than trying to enter into one of the conversations.
Not only am I terribly shy, but I also had the extra handicap of being old enough to be mother to most of the cool kids. As they all virtually high fived each other and talked about what they had been doing over the last 10-15 years, I realized that they had gotten married, found jobs, had babies, etc. I had retired and buried children. Whoopie! Not much to interest the cool kids.
But that didn't mean I was not enjoying the conversation. There were several threads going at once, the "what have you been doing" thread, the "if you are still journaling, what is your URL thread," the "Which of our members have we lost" thread and a few others, like remembering writing entries in HTML code and the sites like GeoCities, where many of us started, which no longer exists. There were so many people posting that I was literally getting 3 new messages every couple of minutes. Not messages to me, of course, but messages to the group that I was enjoying reading.
I couldn't believe how much time I "wasted" reading those messages, but then rationalized that if I had gone with Walt, I wouldn't have gotten anything done either, so I didn't worry about it. It was nearly 5 p.m. before I could tear myself away.
I really enjoyed seeing all the cool kids again but I felt the same detachment from them that I did back at Journalcon.
In 1996 I went to see a therapist to help me through the grief after Gilbert's death. She gave me an assignment at my first meeting, which was to draw a cartoon of how I saw myself. I loved my cartoon which showed a worm slithering across the floor to a group of people. The worm raises up and joins the conversation and everything is going fine until someone suddenly points at me and says "Wait a minute...you're just a worm!" and I sink back down to the floor and slither away.
Sadly, the therapist never asked to see my drawing and was too busy telling me her problems to bother listening to me and I never went back, but still today, when I am around "cool kids" I think about that drawing and realize that yet again, I am the fat kid in the brown loafers and the thick glasses hiding behind the potted palm (threw that in for you, Ron) living vicariously through watching the cool kids. Which is my own weird kind of pleasure.
But lemme tell you, when you feel like a nerd in a group of cool nerds, it's really bad!