My blog's never been much about the readership. Had it been, I would have had to throw in the towel long ago.
For me, blogging's been more of an internal reflection and an emotional purge. This site's been a place to vent semi-anonymously about a lot of the things I couldn't or can't quite get but that have grated on me slowly. It's been a release.
My blog's been a place to relive my arrival in Qatar, to welcome our kitty cat into our home, to explore my own perception of different cultures, to realise why I love Smilin' Vic over and over again, to question my career, to question myself, to grieve my Dad, to cherish my Kiddo. It's been a place to comfortably laugh at myself as I adjust to a foreign land that sees no humour in self-depracation. It's been a place where I've learned to appreciate: my life, my luck, my blessings, my sorrow, my shortcomings.
Oddly enough, it's been a place where I've made friends. It's replicated my social circle in life - I don't have a huge circle of friends, but the friends I have are gold. I don't thrive on followers on my site any more than I relish hangers-on in ''real time''. But I appreciate ''connection'' on the web as much as I do in real life. Whether it's art imitating life or life imitating art can be left to the philosophers to debate, but I feel like I've solidly bonded with a handful of bloggers out there, a trusted few who check up on me regularly and who I've cried with and laughed with over the last two years.
It's hard to say what's attracted me to them, or them to me. Perhaps it's a word, an image, or exquisite penmanship; perhaps a shared experience translated into text, or simply the eloquent expression of something by another that they or I thought was something only we'd ever imagined. Goodness knows. But when it happens, when that connection is made, you feel it just as real over the fibre optic divide as you do face to face.
One of the first people I ''connected with'' was one of the first to comment on my blog; a young soon-to-be expat with a young baby. I don't know how she found me, but from day one I felt the connection. She was soon to be an expat, would be moving overseas with a 1-year-old - to a country where she didn't speak the language, wouldn't have a job, didn't really know what to expect. We both gave birth at the same age. We were both on a second marriage. Ohhhhh! I so 'got' her. I'd been there. ''She'' was ''me'', only a decade younger.
For a year and a half, she was usually the first to comment on my posts, and I was usually the first to comment on hers. We went through a lot together. I looked forward to her posts, and wasn't at all surprised at how quickly her writing intensified and diversified. She really blossomed.
Her ''expat mommy'' blog and readership grew exponentially faster than mine did, and she branched out: becoming a contributing editor on a collaborative blogging venture, starting up a second blog with a racier, more adult and darker theme, guesting on other blogs and joining a number of writer workshops.
For a year and a half we were blogging buddies.
And then last June it just stopped.
I didn't notice at first. It was summer. I was just coming off a very dark period of my own and subsequent mini blogging hiatus having lost my father in March. Things happen. Life goes on. As my other blogging buddy MM told me, sometimes you just have to let things play themselves out. But you always eventually get back to blogging, right? Right?
I figured she'd pop up again. Somewhere. Some day.
But she hasn't. And I can't tell you how surprised I am to say I'm grieving. Not in any traditional sense of grieving I've ever experienced. In a weird ''I don't know you but I miss you and I'm worried about you and I just want to know you're ok even though I've never met you'' kind of way.
Some days, I wonder if it's a social experiment; did she drop off the face of the internet just to see who would look for her? Other days I wonder if something really horrible has befallen her, God forbid. On good days I think she just finally found a great job and is so busy with her fabulous job, amazing husband and wonderful little guy that she no longer has time for any type of social media. Or maybe she's hard at work on that book she'd been meaning to write and just can't be bothered with internet distraction.
But most days, I just miss her. I worry that all's not well. I wonder what happened. Why does the link to Casinos to Castles now lead me to Green Valley Auto Repair? Why does the link to My Muted Voice lead to nowhere?
And I wonder, is this where I have to let it go? Is this post my final goodbye to my best blogging buddy, aka 3B? I think it is. I think this is where it ends.
The fact is, she's gone. The fact is, she was never here. Not in the ''real world''. She was a fibre-optic friend. But she was still a friend. And she's gone. It makes me so sad. I've been ashamed to say I'm grieving someone I've never met, but the fact is I am.
It's a strange new day. I'm about to be 45 years old. I never even imagined I'd see a day where I'd grieve someone I'd only met through social media. But I am.
If you're out there 3B, I hope you're well. God Bless.
Anyone out there lost a blogging buddy?