Friday, August 6, 2010

Bereavement and the Single Girl.

I owe my readers an apology, assuming I have any left. While I don't believe that my month-long absence from the blogosphere broke any hearts or destroyed any lives, I still take this forum, and the dialogues begun with other bloggers and readers seriously, and thusly do not feel it was okay to just cut out like that with no explanation.

But there is an explanation, and a good one. Last month, I had a death in my family. I've been plodding along slowly through the grieving process ever since. First, there was the runaround of the planning and carrying out of the wake and the burial. After that, I was occupied with spending time with my other family members. And then when all the ceremony was over, I found that for the first time since I started blogging, I really just didn't feel like it. For one long week, I didn't feel like doing much of anything but sitting on my couch and feeling sorry for myself.

I know that I've carped on quite a bit in this blog about 'the importance of community'. I feel even more strongly about this issue now because my local community of diy spaces, diy bands, cultural, social and feminist activists, and generally cool and aware folks was what got me off the couch and back to living and doing stuff that matters to me. In the month since the funeral, I've gone to several great shows, volunteered at Willie Mae Rock Camp For Girls, and somehow survived a real rager of a 26th birthday party in Brooklyn.

In the last month, I've seen Death First, P.S. Eliot with Big Eyes and football etc., Mortals, Each Others Mothers, The Shondes, and I caught Titfit twice. Going out as if nothing had happened felt strange at first, but I eventually realized and accepted that not going out and living your life doesn't bring your dead loved one back, and that there's no point in punishing yourself. You might as well go out, see your friends, hear some music, and enjoy the healthy distraction from your grief.

From July 11th - 17th, I threw myself into my beloved rock camp. As usual I volunteered to teach guitar and help out in the kitchen, and I forced myself to step outside my comfort zone by teaching the beginner guitar class. I also accepted a request from one of the other guitar teachers to act as a sort of guitar instructor 'point person', because I happened to be the only returning instructor. I don't know that I did a great job with that, but I'm still proud of myself for taking on the responsibility, and even more proud of how well all our campers did, and how successful our end-of-camp showcase was. Being around other like-minded feminist musicians was comforting to me, and knowing that I could control my grief well enough to do something like camp, and focus on something larger than myself for a whole week, made me feel like I would get through this.

A week after camp, a fair number of volunteers got back together again at a crazy birthday party for a friend and musician whose bands I've written about at length. I have to admit that I probably wasn't ready to deal with the unadulterated revelry and enthusiastic debauchery of that evening. There was a lot of dancing going on at this party, but the sadness and disorientation I thought I'd been handling so well turned into even more of a wallflower than usual. Everyone else seemed to be having so much fun, and I stood there watching them and wondering if I would ever possibly feel that good again. I know that I will, at some point, but when I left the party at 3 in the morning I wasn't so sure. Sometimes I'm still not sure.

But I'm still glad that I went, to all of these events. Sometimes it was hard, but I still usually managed to have some fun at them. I got to see people who I enjoy and respect, and it felt good to feel something like normal even if it was only for a little while. It was helpful to see that life does really go on, that there are still shows and parties and other positive things being planned.

Going out and being around people doesn't bring your lost loved one back, but it does remind you and force you to accept that you are still here, and that that's okay. Getting out and going to shows, and teaching young women how to play music, and watching people drink and dance and sing assured me that there are still good times to be had, and that there are still shows to be attended, reviews and articles to be written, bands and activists who deserve to be publicized, and good things to be documented. This community and its righteous activities will still be there, whenever I'm ready to fully get back into them. And it's really helpful to know that, at a time like this.


EHR said...

I'm so sorry to hear that, Jamie. I hope things have gotten a little bit better for you.

jamie said...

Thanks so much for your words of condolence, dearest. I really do appreciate them.