A State of Comfortable Change

Fort Point

For months, as winter turned to spring, I was diligent. But my writing comes in surges.

Lately, I think about what I’ll post here—which musings are ripe or relevant, and which remain internal: the thoughts that swirl for weeks, influenced by what I read, and morph into very different things, taking my mind elsewhere, forcing me to reset. I have inner dialogues and strong reactions to things I read, but never write about them. I think how easy it has become to “express myself” in other ways (if posting on Instagram is considered expressing oneself). How quick I can create and share a moment there, yet how difficult it is to write here, to say something I hope will last, or encapsulate me at a given moment.

I tweet about this frozen state sometimes. A Twitter pal, @eugenephoto, once said not to worry about being perfect. I understand what he means, that what I write here does not have to be polished, nor must have a point. That this is *my* space to write what I want. Perhaps it’s the thought that each post shapes my digital footprint, adds more data to the trail of Cheri. I think about how I now view posts as finished products of me, how I’ve moved away from sharing a process.

* * * * *

Many of us consciously self-document our lives, suffering from the Facebook Eye. Each second, I observe friends on Facebook contributing to a shared space of disposable moments, and I sense time is more fickle there—and that Cheri is more reactive—and I sit here at my computer in the dust, drowning in my afterthoughts.

Since the day I got married, I’ve changed my name on various profiles online and begun to sign my new name on documents and checks. As I mentioned in my last post, changing my name is a big step, and because I sit in front of a computer screen for most of the day, with my various profiles staring back at me, I’m constantly reminded of this change.

While I love my new name, the sight is jarring. It’s an interesting sensation seeing and experiencing the immediate effects of a “life event” update—congratulatory comments from friends, family, even strangers—while quietly adjusting to it. In the past few weeks, I’ve visited my Facebook profile more than normal, gazing at my own timeline. I sift through photos and think, “Whoa, that’s me holding a bouquet!”

Maybe it’s the weight of a status update, the finality of the “Married To” field. Currently, the relationship status drop-down menu offers 11 status options, from “Single” to “It’s complicated” to “In an open relationship” to “Married.” While there are more options than before, I still sense the rigidity of it all. Where’s the option for “I just got married and I’m really excited but oh my god my last name is different and I now refer to my partner as ‘husband’ and I’ve opened a joint bank account and ahhhh?!?!”

Perhaps this all smells of digital dualism—me looking in, observing my new life unfold in status updates and Instagrams and updated social media profiles. But my life has changed so much in the past several months, and because it’s so easy to declare something with a quick mouse-click, I feel myself catching up and adjusting to what I see.

I’m thrilled, but stunned. I’m human, after all.

* * * * *

I’ve been thinking about home again, especially after reading different takes on it at the Equals Project, Miranda Ward’s “Home State of Mind,” and Sarah Handelman’s thoughts on home and domestic bliss. Even though I’ve mused on my once long-distance relationship and concluded that home is tied to love—or is love—my definition of home evolves.

As my husband and I begin a new shared life in San Francisco, I sense that home is a state of comfortable change. I’ve lived in my loft for a little over a year now, and when I lived by myself, I stacked magazines and coasters neatly on my coffee table, unread and unused. I refused to put anything on one bookshelf but a row of my favorite nonfiction hardcovers. And aside from an empty vase in its center, my kitchen table was bare: no papers, no stuff, and not many meals served on it.

Now, there is stuff everywhere, folded and crinkled. Records of the past few weeks, evidence of our future. The bookshelf is covered with random items—playing cards, batteries, receipts, pens—all placed there by my husband. A healthy basil plant we’ve named Basil, pronounced the British way, sits atop the bookshelf—something living, mutable, in the corner. The dishwasher now runs in the kitchen; before, I didn’t accumulate enough dirty dishes to use it. In the bathroom, my Sonicare toothbrush now has a mate; we take turns using the charger.

We all have idiosyncrasies, and I’ve realized some of my habits recently, in the constant presence of another person. Some can be changed, some cannot, some I would not. In this evolving state of home, I’m relishing these changes, from the slight ones to the big ones.

* * * * *

Amid all the change, our space on the Internet still exists. It’s just different, smaller, more functional. I notice this when I’m upstairs on my computer and he’s downstairs on his laptop; his Twitter @replies and Facebook pokes, no longer sent from across the world, are stripped of something—the subtext that said “I miss you,” the longing felt because of the distance.

I’m still feeling out this whole Internet-shrinking thing, really. More soon.

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Senior editor at Longreads / Automattic

49 thoughts on “A State of Comfortable Change

  1. Hi Cheri…. I am new here..but must tell you that I read your blog almost daily…You are an inspiration….keep up the good work..:)

  2. “I think about how I now view posts as finished products of me, how I’ve moved away from sharing a process.” Your posts are works of art. Just beautiful.

  3. I am new on here and would like to say that I am glad that I came across your blog. I like that you post a pic for each post, it says much, sometimes more than words can. You know the saying, “a picture says more than a million words”. I love them!

    In this post, I like how you said, “how difficult it is to write here, to say something I hope will last, or encapsulate me at a given moment.” I just started and for years I have been stalling it and instead would seclude my writing in journals. I have journals for all sorts of subjects, from love to poems to short stories. Writing on here has been a challenge for the same reason you mentioned. Glad to know that you’re creative, constantly thriving, and continue forth. It gives me inspiration, thanks!


  4. Wow! I really enjoyed this article, and I like how your thoughts and writings jump and bounce all over with heartfelt emotion, but I believe that’s what it makes it beautiful and the process natural. Kinda sick of reading overtly carefully published works. Keep on Writing!

  5. You have received so many accolades I don’t think I need to elaborate on why I am nominating you for the Reader Appreciation Award. However, your most recent post on “change” stirred me in particular. i have been going through many changes in the past year, including relocated from NY to San Francisco. While I am still adapting to my new city, your home town, it is always good to know that others also change with unexpected hesitation, fear and anxiety. Your words soothe and comfort me. So I thank you. For what to do next see: http://iamanafterschoolspecial.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/great-bright-light-on-a-rainy-day-appreciation-always-warms-the-soul/ – all the best, the audacious amateur blogger

    1. As I just commented on the post on your blog, thank you so much for including me on that list.

      Yes, change. I’m swimming in it, and often feel overwhelmed but try to just absorb it. Though I often feel burnt out, and my body is stiff as it goes through the motions. I’ve forced myself recently to STOP and sit and allow myself to rest. Or have a beer. Or go for a walk. These little actions help.

      Best to you in your own journey 🙂

  6. Beautiful introspective blog of a life in flux. Congrats on your marriage. Just tied the knot myself. I thought it wouldn’t change anything; we moved in together almost immediately,(over five years ago) but it has. I feel even closer to her, not in a romantic way necessarily, but in our connected spirits. From your blog, I’m getting that you lived far apart. That’s a whole lot of change!

    1. Yep, apart for a while. It’s an interesting, romantic story, I suppose 🙂 I seem to enjoy writing about life in flux — anyway, thanks for the note and congratulations to you as well!

  7. Love is… two sonic toothbrushes sharing one charger

    Being in a state of comfortable change is (fortunately!) how I feel too. I never know whether I ‘should’ comment on these pieces, or what to say. But I always enjoy them, and appreciate seeing your perspectives laid out like this. Sometimes it’s things we’ve already spoken about or touched on ourselves; sometimes not; but I always feel we’re in sync, and that makes me very happy.

    (And it’s interesting how we do still communicate electronically even though there is no ‘need’ to.)


    1. I enjoy communicating in the same ways we have been; even though there’s “no need to, the layers, the “worlds,” and the variety of tools used somehow make our communication richer and more interesting, if that makes sense.


  8. I am fairly new to blogging, having had a Facebook profile for some years – I also contributed to a poetry on-line site (under a different name), but agree that Facebook, while useful, feels a more shallow experience – I am looking to put deeper – and ceratinly longer – posts on my beeseeker profile; so enjoyed reading the depth in this piece – congartulations to you (both) on your wedding – hope you will be very happy, and more importantly perhaps, lucky.

  9. Life is too fast for bloggers to write about, I guess. It was only a while back since you wrote about a hint of virtual intimacy. Now you’ve got yourself a good new name. Bless. 🙂

    1. Aw, thanks for this note.

      You’re right — there have been “hints” here and there over the past year or so, and I’ve never really discussed my relationship in a direct way. Instead, I’ve enjoyed musing on and exploring the online/offline spaces/spheres we inhabit, and revealing intimacy this way. It has seeped out naturally, I suppose, because — as a fellow blogger Nico (@10TimesOne) once commented — the ways we communicate and interact today truly affect and are intertwined with our relationships.

  10. I love that feeling of comfortable change. For the last few months, I’ve had transition after transition pull me farther from where I was, and that felt terrifying but electric, too. Now, this afternoon, I was on hands and knees scrubbing my shower and this thought popped into my head: “I’m happy.” I laughed so hard, out loud, but it feels good, this comfortable change, even though it took me so long to get there. It’s funny, too, how I went from three roommates to alone and here you are, trying to learn how to live with your new husband. I guess change is relative and we all notice it, maybe more so now than ever with all the digital footprints we’ve created.

    1. “I guess change is relative and we all notice it, maybe more so now than ever with all the digital footprints we’ve created.” Indeed!

      Loved the little anecdote you shared — I have these moments too, especially in my home, doing seemingly mundane things. It’s a nice, lovely feeling.

  11. Lovely post Cheri. “Digital Dualism” – nice. Congratulations on your new last name! 🙂
    I’ve never changed my last name, but whether you do or don’t it’s always an issue.

    I like your meditation on finished posts or “idea sketches” and Instagram and all the rest. For sure there’s no one answer for all, but just for myself I find Facebook to be the world’s greatest baby photo sharing site, but a pretty shallow idea space. Even smart peeps are comparatively superficial there. Not an absolute for sure, but at least a tendency of that platform I think.

    I guess the reason I’m producing my own blog, and reading yours, is that for me this blog space is, I feel, among the deepest, richest online spaces I’ve found. I don’t own a TV anymore and I’m SO happy I’m not giving any hours over to that unrewarding drug anymore. I won’t say Facebook is that bad, but I do feel that 20 minutes on my or your or someone else’s blog, is, for me, a better 20 minutes than on FB.

    Keep writing and thinking and exploring… and congrats on the new last name 🙂

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