There were endless Facebook photos of sushi and sunsets and close-ups of kittens and perky messages cheering me through Monday. There was the snap I posted of me in a dark T-shirt with two doves on it that, with my arms raised, landed strategically and drew cracks from rascally males. And the new friend who invited me to parties where I could buy casserole-ware. And invited me. And invited me.
But it was grandma’s sour balls that finally did it. A niece in a lonely hotel room posted a photo of a jar of hard candy that comforted her. Supportive voices admired the candies. I chimed in that they reminded me of my grandmother’s sour balls. Radio silence. Then someone commented, “Did she really say that?” accompanied by seven laughing emojis.
“Yes” replied my niece with a blushing icon. Puzzled, I went to the Urban Dictionary, where I learned that sour balls are found in the male groinal region when due to a lack of ventilation they become sweaty and odorous. There was an interesting example involving a truck driver.
Facebook and I have had a long, sometimes torrid, mostly humdrum just-enough-to-keep-me-there relationship. There were years when, because of a family rift, the only place I could see my nephews and nieces was on Facebook. It was the thread that connected me to a family unit that I longed was still there even though my father’s death from cancer followed by my sister’s death from cancer had devastated the old structure to a point where it had all but been obliterated.
But Facebook brought it all back like a seductive mirage. There was a Halloween photo of Max, Sam and Madeleine in their ghoul makeup. Robin took that photo. Robin who wasn’t here anymore. And the one of Dad holding baby Trevor. My nieces’ and nephews’ latest news and my friends with their postings of vacations in Alaska and Honduras and my old high school pals who I never really palled around with in high school. My vibrant niece in Portland with the million friends she goes rafting with and laughing pictures of their outings and meals and her permanent Morrissey crush. And maybe my friends in Sydney and Amsterdam will come visit someday if I just hang onto the Facebook thread.
As I read about the trucker who sat in his vehicle for 10 hours straight, it hit me that I might be wasting precious time. I’ll be 60 in February. You start thinking about time when you’re almost 60. There’s still learning to oil paint and the tenor ukulele in the den and studying Italian and taking evening walks rather than standing around in the dark like a fool scrolling down the iPhone screen for fear you’ll miss something good in between puppy videos.
And I knew it was time to deactivate the mirage and do this thing for real.
Leslie Morgan lives in Medford.