It's been more than a year since I've written here, since I've done more than read articles and then click away to the next thing, whatever that thing might be. My life changed all in one stroke — the death of an important family member, a job change, a big move, a novel. And xoJane, such an important part of my life, turned into a memory of home.
I've had a lot of homes over the years, physical places and moments in time, sets of circumstances that will never be repeated. There's a significant and lingering bittersweetness to that, to always having left something so good behind in the hope of finding whatever comes next.
But alongside of that little edge of sorrow, there is amazement. I'm not going to lie — I've never lied at xoJane — I've got some complicated feelings about this place and my experiences here. Are there any of us who don't? There have been some hot terrible messes. But there was a lot of community, too, and for that suspended moment when xoJane was our home, it kind of felt like all of us could do anything.
"All of us" — because xoJane has always been about that interaction, for good or ill. I don't think I'm alone at all in thinking of this place, this virtual space, as a temporary home where we nested for a bit. I've always been glad to share it with you.
xoJane is unique in that we were all trying to figure things out and we were honest about that. For every article promising how to do something (or how not to be a dick about something), there was an article about how we had no clue to manage something else. That kind of honesty is what got me reading xoJane and what kept me here as a writer for so long. I can't count the number of conversations I've had with other writers about how there is no other place where we could have written some of the things we wrote about here.
Fat sex and nail polish and abortion and music that kept us alive. What happened when we realized simple things. How we kept our relationships going. Almost nothing at xoJane has been taboo — and with that kind of freedom, you realize your own willingness to be metaphorically naked in front of the world.
Look, I don't know each of you individually. And as honest as I've ever been, there's always stuff I've not talked about so you only know a part of me. In that sense, we really were characters walking a stage, right? But if xoJane has reinforced anything for me over the years, it is in the power of honesty in writing. None of us are actually alone and so many of us continued to feel that here, to recognize that there is power in not being ashamed because it let us make connections and form relationships.
I've been in therapy a really long time (and I wrote about that a whole bunch here, too), but I'm still not the best at talking about my feelings. I always feel like a sappy old hippie and I've spent a lot of 2016 feeling like that already. Even so, please bear with me for a minute when I say in all earnestness that xoJane is always going to be a little corner in the back of my mind, where all of us have the power to say whatever we have been afraid to say.
And I am so lucky in the relationships I have carried on and strengthened and straight up made because of this place. I get to have dinner with Tynan once a year and it's one of my favorite events. I CAMPED OUT with Amanda despite a firm no-camping general rule in my life. I see Claire whenever possible. Lesley came to visit a few weeks ago. Alison texted me in the middle of the night and I need to text her back. And so many more — including commenters who are now dear friends. I haven't been here for a year — but my life is still full of xoJane.
Y'all, there is so much we have to do. There is so much we have to do — not just for our own sakes but for everyone. And I've been mourning that xoJane might not be part of that in the upcoming years. Nothing lasts forever, of course nothing lasts forever. We shuffle off and only the Wayback Machine remembers, right? But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop working, or that I'm going to stop being honest. I'm going to keep making a new home for myself wherever I happen to be.
And if you're looking for me now? I'm here. (And I’m working on more novels, so, you know, check that out, too.) Where are you?
I hope I see you everywhere, just as unashamed as we've been here, even when we're scared.