greetings from havelock north, new zealand. aotearoa is heading into autumn and the shadows and clouds are long. and after 49 days of lockdown in level 3, new zealand moved yesterday into level two, which meant that i could take ash to a playground for the first time in a very long time.
he leapt out of my arms, bolted towards the swingset and exploded with glee and peals of laughter.
as i pushed him on a swing next to a grand-dad pushing his giggling 2-year-old girl, i started to cry. it's been a lot of holding everything in, for a long time.
i hope that wherever you are, relief - whatever that means - is near.
my friends....these last few weeks have been rough.
i've learned - from behind a screen while in lockdown in a foreign country with a four-year old - more than i ever wanted to learn about gossip, sexism, the media, and Internet Cruelty As Varsity Sport.
of course, none of this is new to me.
i've been through this particular circle of internet-hell so many times i should ask for a loyalty card. i now consider the passing kerfuffles of the internet a kind of empathy gym: i grow stronger and wiser with every turn around the rodeo, and, every time, i become even more certain of who i truly am, what i believe, and what telling the truth means to me.
neil and I have both used the internet as a tool to bring our communities together for decades. many of you have been there - with one of us, or both of us - from the start.
and sometimes, it costs.
watching this last pile-on has been devastating not just for our relationship, which had already veered into fragile territory, but for how it reflects the general health of the internet community.
neil and I have both watched with such sadness as people have hacked accounts, made up lies and stories, and generally treated our marriage like tabloid-style entertainment.
you know us. that is not who we are, and it isn't who we want to be. it certainly isn't what we want for our kid.
and, most of all, it isn’t what we want our internet community to be.
everyone here on my patreon - without exception, i think - has been nothing but kind, compassionate, understanding and gentle. nobody has attacked, and nobody has blamed or insulted anybody else. coming from a group of 15,000 people, that says so much about you, what this community is. who we are. how we are.
and this is why i love this safe haven of reasonableness and compassion that we have all built together with such care and tenderness.
that all being said, neil and i gotta own our part.
we have made some mistakes over the last few weeks in how we dealt with internet stuff. we've both gone back and deleted some tweets and posts that were written in haste and anger. but watching the outsized shitshow on the internet led us to think that we should say something, hand in hand, about everything.
below is a joint statement, written by the two us, and some words from neil's blog. (you can also read everything here on neil's site.)
things are so hard right now for so many people.
times are dark.
and if neil and i are committed to anything together, it is trying to help, heal and make art for people who need it in dark times.
so, we need to call on you - our community - to keep holding fast, and to be guardians of our partnership, and our kid.
we've always needed you, and we need you now more than ever.
we love you.
from Neil's blog:
Hullo from Scotland, where I am in rural lockdown on my own. I'm half a world away from Amanda and Ash, and missing both of them a lot. We check in on screens and phones twice a day, when I get up and before I sleep (which is when they go to sleep and when they get up) but it's not the same.
I was in New Zealand with them until two weeks ago, when New Zealand went from the Level 4 lockdown it had been on for the previous 5 weeks down to Level 3. I flew, masked and gloved, from empty Auckland airport to LAX, an empty international terminal with only one check in counter open -- the one for the BA flight from LAX to London. Both flights were surreal, especially the flight to London. Empty airports, mostly empty planes. It reminded me of flying a week after 9/11: everything's changed.
I landed in London about ten in the morning, got a masked car service to a friend's house. He had a spare car (bought many years ago as a birthday present for his daughter, but she had never learned to drive), with some groceries for me in a box in the back, waiting in the drive, with the key in the lock. I drove north, on empty motorways and then on empty roads, and got in about midnight, and I've been here ever since.
The journey was, as I said, surreal. It was also emotionally hard. Amanda and I had found ourselves in a rough place immediately before I left (my fault, I'm afraid, I'd hurt her feelings very badly, and... actually beyond that it's none of anyone else's business). We agreed that we needed to give each other some space, which had been in very short supply in lockdown in New Zealand. So it was a sad sort of flight, even without the world in lockdown, and a sad sort of drive.
(You can read here all about how we got to New Zealand and why we were there at all. And, for the curious, the song that's currently stuck in my head is mostly Al Stewart's “Warren Gamaliel Harding”.)
I needed to be somewhere I could talk to people in the UK while they and I were awake, not just before breakfast and after dinner. And I needed to be somewhere I could continue to isolate easily, which definitely isn't our house in Woodstock, currently at capacity with five families who have fled Manhattan and Brooklyn and Boston.
Once the world opens up and travel gets easier Amanda and Ash and I are looking forward to being together again in Woodstock. (Yes, I've seen the newsfeed headlines saying I've moved to the UK, and even that we're divorcing. No, I haven't moved the UK, and yes, Amanda and I are still very much together, even with half a world between us.)
Thank you to everyone who's been kind and nice and helpful, while Amanda and my problems got rather more public than either of us is comfortable with. We love each other, and we love Ash, and we will sort ourselves out, in private, which is much the best place for things like this.
It's rough for almost everyone right now – some people are crammed together and wish they weren't, some are alone and crave companionship, pretty much all of us are hurting in one way or another.
So be kind. Be kind to each other, be kind to Amanda (who is getting a huge amount of undeserved internet flack for this, some of it really cruel), and if you ever meet him (he will tell you very seriously everything he thinks about zombies, or his latest zombie-supplanting discovery, Richard Scarry's detectives), be kind to Ash.
PS: Amanda and I wrote a letter together, for the curious and for the bits of the world that is wondering what's going on, and whether they should worry about it. Feel free to send anyone who wants to know how we are and what's happening to read it.
a joint statement from Neil & Amanda:
This has been a hard few weeks for us. We are not getting divorced. It’s not that exciting.
We love each other very deeply. As sometimes happens during the course of a long marriage, we have hurt each other. We have lived our lives individually, and then as a couple, very publicly (and right now, too publicly).
We have been trying to figure out how best to love each other for twelve years. It is fair to say that this relationship has been the hardest, but also the most rewarding, collaboration of our lives.
Living in lockdown is hard. Working on a marriage, as everyone married knows, is also hard. And we are very aware there are thousands, probably millions of people who have been dealing with their own versions of problems like ours over the last few months – and many face situations that are far worse.
We will sort out our marriage in private, which is where things like this are best sorted. We're working together to try and do this better. We care about each other so much, and we have a small boy we love and delight in, and those are reasons enough to work together to fix things.
So that's what's going on. It's not as much fun or as interesting as the newsfeed headlines made it seem.
For anyone who felt the urge to choose sides on this, trust us, there really aren't any sides to be taken: we are on our side, and we're on Ash's side, and we hope you are too.
None of us know what the future is going to look and feel like, right now, and that's scary. We need to be able to have each other’s backs. So please, if you can, have our backs, and we will do our best to have yours.
And to the vast majority of people out there who have been kind and sane and supportive to both of us, and to each other, thank you, we love you and appreciate it, and you, so very much.
Peace, and definitely love,
Neil and Amanda
that's the end.
everybody, hang in there.
i am open for hugs anytime.
and i love you.
------THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS---------
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