A Note to My Readers on the New "Ibn Ibn Battuta"

Thursday, April 28, 2011 | Washington, DC, USA

The author in Tarifa, Spain, February 2009.
Even when I'm not traveling, I sometimes tinker with improvements to Ibn Ibn Battuta. Last summer, I began the laborious process of transferring the blog to a new service and upgrading the layout. In my free time, I would redesign pages, re-code sidebars, fix old typos, or add new photos.

I was willing to put in the time because Ibn Ibn Battuta is more than just my travel blog. If I kicked the can tomorrow, Ibn Ibn Battuta would be the one thing I've produced so far in life that might endure—my one shot (lousy though it may be) at immortality. It is a chronicle of my most formative experiences, my record of my personal journey with all its ups and downs. I try to make that record honest, even when I would rather not acknowledge some of the downs.

* * *

One day back in September, Jacqueline, then in her second week of law school, announced that we were done. Done?! Done. A week later I was still numb, lost, and tumbling as I left for a work trip to
Rwanda. I spent every spare moment there trying to come to terms with the fact that the girl I had thought might be my partner for life no longer wanted the job.

I paged through my blog, looking back on the travels that Jacqueline and I had experienced together. So many memories from the US, Caribbean, Morocco, Europe, Ethiopia. But now, every image or mention of her on my own public website seemed embarrassing, and a source of shame and hurt. I grew angry and defensive; with her name and picture all over it, my magnum opus was tainted. Why had I let this person in? And how could I get her out? My knee-jerk reaction to the pain was to scrub her from these pages.

But how? Take down every entry where I mentioned her? There goes half my blog. Rewrite all those entries to remove her from my story? Our interactions and our joint reactions to the stimulii of travel were central to several years worth of stories, which would feel forever hollow without one of their main characters.

* * *

Within a few months of our split, Jacqueline and I had returned to cordial terms. Today our breakup seems far in the past, our relationship even further so.

Struggling with the dilemma of how to tell my story took longer, but I ultimately reached a point of acceptance: Jacqueline had been a central figure in my life for four years, and though it hurt to be reminded that she wouldn't be so again, trying to erase her from my blog would do more harm than good. Like it or not, I let someone into my story all the way, got burned, and can't hide that fact without doing myself further injury.

With new peace of mind, I slowly returned to the work of upgrading my blog. Besides making design improvements throughout the site, I even dug up and posted previously unpublished writings from my travels in Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Today this work is done. All the characters remain the same, and though seeing one of the names still smarts, this story now feels more mine than ever.

I hope you enjoy the new look, the new stories and images, the "Best Of" page, the map integration on each post, and my favorite feature—the "Random" button in the menu at right.

Expect more travels and more stories to come.

Thank you for reading,


Andrew G. Farrand said...

I'd welcome any feedback that readers would like to share about the new look!

illogika said...

Hi Andrew,

I've been following your blog for a few months now (I actually stumbled upon your 'Reading on the Road in Morocco' entries which were awesome for a librarian and a girl with a Moroccan culture-crush!).

From what I've read, you always write thoughtfully and honestly, and I'd be sad if you lost part of that. I'm sorry to hear that you're no longer with Jacqueline, but you're right to note that she was an integral part of your past, and many of your stories would perhaps be incomplete without her.

But here's to creating and experiencing exciting stories in the future that you can continue to share with us!


Andrew G. Farrand said...

Thanks so much Haley - really appreciated reading your words. Hope you continue to enjoy what you read here!

Anonymous said...

I'm a new in this i must say that is cool that's all folks

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