beach in the fog

On Labor Day, Bodega Bay was covered in the kind of fog I didn’t believe in until I moved to California and saw it roll in from the ocean and swallow the Golden Gate Bridge. The beach-goers curled in on themselves like snails, hoods up, hands stuffed deep into their pockets while the Hacker and I sat on the berm and watched the waves appear and disappear, retreating a little less each time as the tide came in. It felt like interrupting a sad ritual, as if the people around us were at the beach on Labor Day in order to fulfill some kind of holy obligation. Heretics that we are, we left to walk along the Kortum Trail from Shell Beach to Wright’s Beach, a three mile journey there and back again.

While we walked the trail and then over ice cream in Sebastopol and late into the evening, we talked about blogging, identity, and writing novels.

For me, blogging has been a way meditating of on the big questions ever since I discovered that my high school didn’t know enough to block LiveJournal in 1999. I blogged my way through a turbulent adolescence, a long-distance engagement, a slow conversion from my Evangelical upbringing to confirmation in one of the more progressive dioceses in the Episcopal Church.

Blogging was memoir in the present tense, charting out labyrinthine paths along a shore that sometimes seemed to double back but always moved forward toward a destination that was only visible in retrospect. Occasionally, I met other (mostly) introverted souls along the way, and we walked together as long as our paths converged, but for the most part blogging was about reflection in solitude.

Then the Social Web descended, quickly followed by advertisers and marketing gurus, who insisted that blogging was about building a personal brand. Individuation was no longer a journey toward becoming a more integrated and psychically healthy human being but an unchanging mirror reflecting the ideal selves of others. Bloggers became personalities and blogging as the record of a personal journey seemed to vanish into the fog.

Since the late-00s I’ve been writing novels, trying to continue the journey that I started with blogging, occasionally picking at a writing blog out of obligation, but writing a novel is a fundamentally different act than keeping a blog, and lately I’ve been feeling the loss.

I don’t know if blogs like this exist anymore, but today I’m wiping the fog off my glasses and following new desire lines into the mist.

 foggy sunglasses