Saturday, November 22, 2008
Why I Blog
This evening Bill and I had dinner at our home with our good friend Bob C. While many subjects were covered, the subject of my blogging came up. Bob C. stated that he wouldn’t blog. He didn’t see the need for it. I understand that. Bill also doesn’t see the need for him to blog. I also understand why Bill doesn’t feel compelled to blog. I tried to explain to them why I like to blog. It’s very simple, I love to write. Both Bob and Bill said they don’t want the world to know about their lives. I’m different. I do want the world to know about my life. Some may see that as arrogant or selfish. I see it as a compelling need within me that I am required to fulfill.
While I’ve never had formal training in writing (and it shows), I have always had that need to write from the time I was a teenager. At one time I had 57 pen pals around the world. One of my special joys was to check my Post Office box (212) and see envelopes with the different postage stamps from my friends across the country and even some from foreign lands (Japan and Germany.) Looking back on it, I don’t remember anything special that I wrote about except my daily activities, much as I do now. But I did get a great deal of satisfaction from writing my letters and receiving them from my many friends from far away places.
When I joined the Army at 18 years old I had to give up most of my pen pals. I kept one, Nancy Jo Stoker of Waterloo, Iowa. I continued to write to her most of the three years I was in the Army, but at sometime I even let that correspondence lapse. While in the Army I received letters from my Mother, and my three best friends, Bill B., Larry M. and Bob Mc. I still have those letters. After I left the Army those correspondences ended.
In July of 1964 I met my life partner, Bill K. He lived in Pennsauken, New Jersey and I lived in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. We would meet on the weekends. During the week I would write him a letter….every day. I did that from July 1964 to March 1, 1965, when I moved in with him. He still has those letters. On occasion I have read those letters. The content was the same, an accounting my daily activities. It is interesting now to read what was my concerns back then in the 60’s. Also interesting is how my handwriting has changed over the years.
During a ten year period from 1972 to 1981 I kept a personal diary in one of those dated year books I purchased at the Woolworth store on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. I recorded the years I lived in center city Philadelphia. I faithfully recorded my daily activities in that diary. I would feel incomplete when I didn’t make a daily entry. It was rare that I missed a day. I stopped keeping a diary when an acquaintance, who I let stay in my apartment in Philadelphia, discovered them. This was someone who was homeless and I let stay in my apartment (which I had leased for a year while my house in Pennsylvania was being built) until he found another home. Unfortunately, I had to ask this person to leave my apartment when found out he was stealing from me. A few weeks later he attempted to blackmail me by divulging the contents of my diary. He was unsuccessful in his blackmail attempts but I did stop keeping my diary.
Last year, in July, I decided to start a daily diary (or journal as the cover of the book says) again. I’ve been making daily entries in it since that date. I can’t explain exactly why I feel this need to write. Maybe it’s because I’m at the end of my life now. I do know it gives me a feeling of completeness and that I matter. We all matter. All of us lead interesting lives. There are no dull lives. I often think that maybe someday in the future someone will read my journals and get a feel of what life was like here in the beginning of the 21st century. I read my journals that I kept back in the 70’s and I get the full flavor of what life was like in the 70’s. It was a wonderful time for me as a gay man in the full prime of my youth. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the 70’s were a time of liberation for gay men and women. With the onset of the 80’s and the AIDS epidemic my world changed forever. It was only by coincidence I had already decided to move from center city Philadelphia to a suburban home in Chester County, Pennsylvania. That period ended a chapter of my life.
The whole time I lived in Pennsylvania, twenty five years (from 1981 to 2006), I didn’t keep any journals of my life. That period of my life exists now only in my memory. No written record exists of it unless I decide to write about it before I pass from this earth.
Retiring and moving to Delaware is probably the last chapter of my life. This blog of mine, Retired in Delaware will give someone in the future of what life was like for this one person in Delaware. Some paint a beautiful picture and leave that as their legacy to the future. Some of those artists are not formally trained but their art is just as appreciated by many as well as full filling a personal need within themselves. While I may lack formal training, I forge ahead. Writing full fills a deep need within me. My writing is proof that I existed, that I mattered. Writing is my legacy to the future.