I’ve blogged over the years. A lot. I think I was doing it twenty years ago. Several different websites. A community site. A blog I wrote when I travelled. A blog I wrote when I came back. A food and gardening site. A blog on international development. I even blogged about international development to fool my brain into doing the work I needed for assignments when I was reading international studies.
Writing has been how I’ve made sense of things, for a long time. It hasn’t always been brilliant but I like to think I managed to write some decent stuff. But it’s not just about the quality. Your old blog posts or diaries are like metadata – reading between the lines, picking up on the tone tells you how you felt, who you were.
But I took it all down. Either fits of anxiety, or not seeing the value of leaving it up, or a desire to start a clean slate without old stuff weighing me down, meant I’ve taken most of what I’ve ever read off the web. It’s hidden away within backups in a tangle of SQL files, uploads and WordPress backups. It’s a pain in the arse to get to. In some cases I didn’t even back it up, I just wiped it out. It’s gone, accessible if I’m lucky through the Wayback Machine, but mostly just gone, and I regret those fits of destructive tidying and want it back, the shit stuff and the decent stuff, because that was my diary and I didn’t write it anywhere else.
The internet isn’t a perfect repository. Stuff disappears. I’ve lost count of all the websites I used to visit before the web became calcified and everyone decided to live in social media.
Perhaps I should accept this and move on, but I’m feeling reflective this week. We’re taking a week off and I’ve disengaged for just long enough from work for my mind to wander. Work has been both incredibly intense and probably the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done for the past near eighteen months, but between that and the pandemic, I’ve not thought of much else. I’ve felt a little bit like climbing up a ladder to get a better view of everything beyond where I am and where I live, to try and look back to what led to here, and look forward to where it’s all going. And part of that looking back was looking for all the stuff I wrote, because it doesn’t just tell me what I was doing, it tells me who I was.