Notes on 2012

I’m sitting in bed, typing, as my husband sleeps.

It’s Christmas morning — my first here in England. For the holidays, we’re staying at my mum-in-law’s home in Kent, and I’ve been surrounded by new friends, new family members (including two weeks-old nephews), two mellow cats, and a playful dog named Dylan.

In these quiet moments to myself, I think about how I got here. How I’m away from my family in California for the first time during Christmas. Or how I now have a gold wedding band on my finger.

The year 2012 turned out to be quite the year.

I trace the beginning of this path to November 2010, when I met someone I’d known from the Twitterverse and the world of online travel writing at a bar, Zeitgeist, in San Francisco. From there, it unraveled. In the beginning, I was never sure what it was, but it was something, despite that it stretched from San Francisco to Cairo — romantic and exciting, yet uncertain because of the distance.

I remember the tears of happiness that fell as I sat on a plane two Decembers ago, overlooking the glittering strip of Las Vegas — he and I had met there, only our third encounter, for a spontaneous day of hanging out. When we said goodbye at a taxi pick-up line outside of the Bellagio, I felt something I’d not felt for many years: the desire to look forward, to face the future — whatever that was.

I wondered: surely this couldn’t be it?

It wasn’t.

I had the opportunity to visit Egypt the following February with a good friend from college, and booked a flight to Cairo not long after those first meetings in San Francisco and Las Vegas. I was excited to spend more time with this person, but as I watched the events of January 25 and the revolution unfold from afar, I cancelled the trip. I rerouted my flight to Berlin and spent a chilly but lovely two weeks there on my own, and then stopped in London, so that he and I could cross paths again.

I did all of this despite not knowing what was happening, or when — or if — I’d see him again. But when I look back on our timeline, I now wonder how I couldn’t see it.

We met in London again in the summer, and made a journey to beautiful Cornwall. It was then that I realized this something was, in fact, a relationship. And how — despite parting ways once again, flying to opposite sides of the world, and resuming our romance on GMail, Skype, WhatsApp, and Twitter — I was the happiest I’d ever been.

By the end of 2011, I finally made a trip to Egypt. I experienced the delicious chaos of Cairo through his eyes, and we lazed along the Red Sea in the Sinai. Egypt challenged me, but I’m glad I went — to see his life there, to witness a place and culture in the midst of such dramatic change.

At the beginning of 2012, we met in Turkey. I recall the lavish breakfasts in our cozy Sultanahmet guesthouse, the majestic mosques of Istanbul lit up at night, the holding hands in light falling snow, the puffs of apple-flavored nargileh and glass cups of tea.

And of course, saying goodbye again.

Then, May arrived. He said goodbye to Cairo and flew to San Francisco. I remember how happy I was that he came. How my Internet immediately shrunk. How my space became our space. And how he proposed to me in the summer, and how we got married in a small ceremony in front of my family, closest friends, and his mum.

San Francisco City Hall.
San Francisco City Hall.

While on this path, I’ve spent much of the time writing around all of this. I kept my previous “Notes on Virtual Life” series vague — these posts focused on the distinction between online and offline and relationships within the digital sphere, but those who were aware of our story knew I was really exploring the idea of us. While I don’t hold the same opinions about the online/offline spheres as I did when I wrote those posts — and I’ve considered removing them — I like seeing how my thoughts have evolved.

And so, back to this morning’s question: How did I get here?

I realize this blog has documented the answer to this question over the past two years.

* * * * *

I complain about not writing enough, but when I do, I’m happy with what I write here. The posts from 2012 that I’m particularly attached to are very personal ones: “Notes on Home, Life, and Love,” which explores long-distance love in the time of the Internet, and “Online Mourning and the Unexpected Refuge of Facebook,” which describes the passing of a dear friend and my experience dealing with grief and loss on Facebook.

Over at The Equals Record, I mused mainly about social media, from my process of culling tweets and creating my own universe on Twitter to the filing away of dreams on Pinterest. In the spring, I was also invited to contribute to Cyborgology, a collaborative blog on sociology and technology, and wrote “We Danced to Become Machines” — a piece on techno, dancing, and the seeds of my augmented self. It’s different from what I post here, and describes an experience and time in my life of which I haven’t fully washed my hands. When I’m in the right place and have the time, it’s a project I’d like to work on.

Because right now, I’m focused on my new job. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but I’m now a story wrangler on the editorial team at Automattic, working on projects at and across the Automattic universe. (I began contract work in the summer and started full time in October.) I haven’t had time to write, and I suspect I won’t in general, especially for larger projects I’ve had in mind. But blog-wise, I hope to post at least once a month in 2013 (which is actually not so different from the frequency in 2012!).

After being featured on the Atlantic and numerous sites (like The Verge and The Daily Beast) last Christmas for my “On Eternal Sunshine, Erasing Memories, and Facebook Timeline” post, my sole New Year’s goal was to write better — to write tighter, cohesive, stand-alone pieces. I knew it meant posting less, but I didn’t mind that.

And that’s exactly what I did. Long-time followers of this blog know I’m very picky — about what I post, what I read, and who I follow. Given the ever-flowing streams of information we consume each day, I’m very happy with this selective approach in both my writing and reading. After a bit of freaking out about feeling left out, I’ve accepted I can’t read everything — nor do I want to — and have learned to pare things down, from my Twitter feed to my blogroll.

So, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for reading and following along. I know there’s so much to read and discover out there, and I’m happy to receive comments from readers who identify with something I’ve written. I don’t always know what I mean to say, and tend to ask questions in my posts because I don’t know the answers, so I appreciate when others say they’ve read something of mine that has resonated with them.

Happy holidays and New Year, everyone.

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

I am an editor at Longreads. For over a decade, I've worked on curation, editing, and storytelling projects across Automattic, including

32 thoughts on “Notes on 2012

  1. Reading this post reminded me of an internet romance I once had. The trips we took together and the difficulties of a long distance relationship. Unfortunately, my internet romance did not end as nicely as yours. You write beautifully and I look forward to reading more.

  2. Cheri, Thanks so much for liking one of my posts and considering it for Freshly Pressed! I’m honored, and glad that I found your blog as well. I found this particular post to be a good introduction to you and your world! Cheers, Donna

  3. … first time I’m finding an internet relationship romantic… I guess I’m a bit old fashioned. Even got tears in my eyes! Thank you for your writing and for sharing your experience!!

  4. Before the days of smart phones, and tablets, when swyping mostly meant swatting at something, I would sit up and write in a journal, or on a napkin…I think this may a distinctly female thing…that quiet time of intimacy between you and a sleeping loved one…

    I loved this retelling of the stops along the way to get to Nick. Lovely story that will burnish and glow with the years.

  5. Sounds like and exciting year, or better yet an exciting life. I feel you on the blogging, as its why I started my blog this year in October. Life is truly a journey.

  6. Loved this entry for 2 reasons:
    1. Anytime I see romance kick off via Internet, I find it fascinating bc this is seemingly becoming more & more common.
    2. My friend who went into the business world the other day talked to me about how he still desires a career in writing. This piece will inspire him.

    1. Yes, it’s very unpredictable. In some ways it felt like it hit suddenly and unexpectedly, but at the same time, looking back on the events that unfolded, I should have realized what was happening. Doesn’t work that way though, does it?

      Indeed, I took (many!) writing classes — my two degrees are in writing (BA, screenwriting and MFA, creative nonfiction).

  7. Merry Christmas! I think your blog is definitely memorable. Like you said, you can’t categorize it, but maybe that’s what makes it a bit more special.

  8. Reading this one made me teary but then again, I cry about everything. This one is by far my new favorite. You write beautifully and flawless. I admire your writing. I enjoy reading your blog.

  9. I was writing my Equals Record column in bed last night while Elijah slept, so that bit of this post made me smile and nod knowingly. I am so happy you write, curate, and reflect, and I’m so grateful for the way in which you see, experience, and share the world. I hope you two had beautiful holidays, and I hope 2013 is the year when our paths cross, in Boston, California, or elsewhere!

    1. I hope for the same thing! We’ll be bouncing around in 2013 for vacations and weddings and stuff, and now that I can work from anywhere, it’s a bit easier to make trips happen. Looking forward to next year — and to continue to follow along on your adventures as well.

  10. I don’t know why it took me so long to read around your blog, but I love what I see. Your prose is meaningful and at the end of each post there is time well-spent. Really well done.

  11. Hi Cheri,

    So beautiful … I always look forward to your posts. You know I’m your number one fan even if Nick begs to differ.

    It’s a wonderful narrative of your relationship that I excitedly followed.

    love  … mom …have to read it again 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! I owe it to the Delicious Magazine theme. And I make sure to always include images in posts to give the blog splashes of color on every page. I hate clutter (both physical and digital!), so I also try to do my best to keep the sidebar and other pages clean and minimal.

  12. I have only read your blog twice,the first time months & months ago, but as soon as I read this one, I remembered who you were and your story. That is no small feat considering the number of blogs I have read in between. I want to tell you how happy I am for you, and how inspiring you are- my resolution this year is to go after my dreams relentlessly. Thanks for reminding me that success is possible, with determination (and skill, of course). I wish you the best of luck in all avenues of life!

    1. I remembered who you were and your story. I appreciate this — I’ve never viewed my blog as fitting into a particular category, perhaps making it harder for casual readers passing through to remember me. And I certainly have never marketed myself in any certain way, either. So, it’s nice to hear that you’d come upon my blog once in the past, only to return again and still recall my “story.” Thank you.

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