this is my conscious blessing, the one I didn’t ask for until after it already chose me.
My dad bought our first computer when I was a junior in high school. It sat in the den with a giant CRT monitor that illuminated the entire room whenever it was on, and my brother and I fought regularly over whose turn it was to sign on to AOL. My first screen name was “LOL15″ – partly because I was fifteen years old, but mostly because my dad made me pick on the spot. Horrible name aside, “LOL15″ was my first introduction to the internet and my love of social media. Sixteen years later I’ve gone through a few LiveJournal diaries, a handful of MySpace accounts, a couple attempts at Facebook, one public Twitter, and countless message boards, apps, and blogs. I drove into adulthood with the internet in the back seat and spilled my twenty-something angst for every passenger to see.
Before 2013, I had a large but manageable online presence. I dealt with internet drama before, but not in person. I shared photos of my family and close friends and cleavage and whatever else came to mind. I could (and did) tweet anything, using social media to get through the misery of my former job and dragging celebrities for any faux-pas I found inappropriate. Was I a bully? Am I still? Regardless, 2013 is the year that determined that my use of social media in all of its many incarnations would permanently change.
Last summer, as The Read burst in popularity, my personal problems were published just after I became homeless through a separate set of fucked up circumstances. I moved twice in three weeks. A relative few celebrated my demise, furiously gloating over my perceived indiscretions while I privately adjusted into living in a permanent space again. I was working full-time, taping the show every week, and wanting to give up with every passing day. I didn’t want to jinx what we had by complaining, but the rapid ascension of The Read drove me to the brink more than once.
And so I suffered silently through the wounds of August. After my internet existence blew up, I took my now-annual solo trip to Long Beach to play alone and splash away my new life. The gravitational pull of the moon dragged me across jagged shells and slapping seaweed and quietly moved me in whichever direction it pleased, all throughout God’s body. I felt the ocean spread around me and felt small, like just another drop in the infinite mass of our world.
I was recognized right before I decided it was too cold to stay and lifeguards signaled for swimmers to move closer to shore. The irony of deliberately leaving the city to be alone only to be confronted while rib-deep in the ocean was not lost. It all clicked while I internally panicked over a fan seeing me bare thighed and without makeup: “Crissle” wasn’t going anywhere, and there was no peace in running from her.
The next week I received an email from ESSENCE asking me to write an essay for their November issue. The rest is history.
In 2014 I am officially saying goodbye to LOL15, the dozens of screen names that came after it, and the part of me that freely posted home videos and dark secrets and told the rest on sex filters. What used to be my space to vent and laugh and drag and uplift and simply exist is now made up of nothing more personal than an assortment of usernames.
Happy New Year, all.
I will miss sharing the details of my life, but that’s not my life anymore.