I'm writing this at 4:15AM. No one is online. No one is here. Twitter is nice at 4:15AM. It's empty. The jokes are brewing in the heads of sleeping bloggers. The stories are sitting in sleeping editors' inboxes. The gif's have nothing yet to "gif." No one is here.
And it's this time, I find, that is the best time for me to write. Earlier tonight, I found a string of heartfelt, deeply emotional posts married to the wildly circulating #BellLetsTalk – Personal stories from writers I admire. Honest affirmations from bloggers I follow. Genuine posts from, within and around the community, like hundreds of hands reaching out to meet mine. A hashtag string weaving in and out to spell "it's gonna be alright."
I wish I had this string when I was raped last summer. I wish I had this string when I lost everything in Hurricane Sandy. I wish I had this string every time I hovered over the toilet seat to purge my dinner, and every time I told myself I would stop, and every time I couldn't. I wish I had this string, and all of your outstretched hands, on the days I thought mine had none to hold.
I wish we could all have this moment, this assurance that we're all in this together, all the time. I wish the extended hands I've seen tonight could hold themselves stretched out for the many moments they're likely to be needed – the many moments they'd need to have been found – long after the frayed end of the hashtag string fades out.
You can look to a writer, a blogger, a sportscaster, an athlete, a business owner, a pun/terrible joke enthusiast – and know that they've all been there. If not your there, then their there.
There is not a city centre, but it is a common ground. It is not defined, nor is it absolute, but it is universal. And if we're broken by it, we are unified because of it.
I hope we never forget that. I hope that, from time to time, we can look beyond what we post – the articles we share, the work we promote – and remember that we're all just human beings who reside and vacate there.
An outstretched hand that reveals itself for the duration of a day is merely a wave of a hand. Keep your arms out, hands open, palms up. Someone will grab it, because they have to. Because they needed to have found you. Because they're there, and you can help them through it.
It's now 4:25AM. No one is online. No one is here. But I know at one point, many of you have been here. Thank you for sharing your stories, your time, and for holding out your hands.
If ever you need to hold mine, you can find me here.