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Flight

[Author’s note: This was not, in fact, the first post on the “…she’s a flight risk” weblog, but it is certainly the most recognisable. If you are here, you probably know why, still, you might like to poke over to the About page regardless. There’s some history there, and it is a good bet you haven’t heard all of it.]

When the blog began to get noticed, this passage was often cited as if it were the very first that had been written. It wasn’t. In fact, I had written and posted “Drastic” about an hour earlier. I guess this passage was catchier, and if the reporters that began to cover the story needed to muck around with the chronology to grab the attention of their editors, well, who was going to complain? Eventually, it became a sort of fait accompli that “…she’s a flight risk” opened with these lines. I threw up my hands and posted it in the header, metadata, etc.

Today these words are still cited as the defining tagline of the blog. Now that the once indispensable Technorati is gone and Google’s “site:” search is degraded to the point of being useless, and “link:” is totally dead, it’s easier to find references to “…she’s a flight risk” by searching for “On March 2, 2003 at 4:12 pm, I disappeared.” than anything else.
On March 2, 2003 at 4:12 pm, I disappeared.

My name is isabella v.

I’m twentysomething and I am an international fugitive.

My name is isabella v. But it isn’t.





 

I’ve been careful up to now. Careful to leave few clues or to obscure them if I did leave them, to mix them with something else and make them unreadable. The first two weeks, the hardest, are over. I feel mostly safe. As safe as I can feel. There is still, of course, a constant “over the shoulder” paranoia to all this. The fear that I’m giving something away when I talk to a realtor. A clerk. An airline ticket agent.

Boy, did this turn out to be the truth, but not for any of the reasons I worried about at the time.
I doubt I will ever really be free of that.

 

I’ve been careful up to now to avoid contacting anyone who knew me before. I know that is the kiss of death but the temptation is always lingering.The temptation to reach out and touch the old world. There is danger there. I can feel it. Real and palpable in the air of that world. But I am still tempted.

The blog upset a lot of people. Down the line, I refused to give it up even when badgered about it. Two people (both lawyers) quit over the issue, but then, it was a different era. In 2003 blogging was very new, and very scary, particularly to legal and financial types who, not unjustifiably, would far prefer their clients just shut their mouths and pay their bills on time. Facebook wouldn’t be launched for almost a year. If you had told anyone how pervasive the habit of vomiting forth every daily encounter and emotion onto a canvas and posting it for all to see would become, they would have had you committed.
It feels stupid and careless to keep a weblog, but it feels smart too.

┬áIt’s a release for the much more dangerous temptation to pick up the phone and call someone I once knew. That other girl once knew. She. Her. Not me anymore. To meet someone. To write a letter. A post card. Something clever and coy. To leave physical evidence. Here I can cover my tracks better. Or I think I can.

And perhaps publicity will help. If my story is public, it’s harder to hurt me. Isn’t it? Harder to make me disappear? People will notice. Questions will be asked. That’s the last thing they want. Questions.

And so I begin to tell my tale. Writing a little more every time the urge to reach out to the old world touches me. Every time I am tempted. Every time I feel reckless.

Early on, blogging was a very lonely endeavour. You never knew how many people (any?) were reading your posts unless they commented, or you wanted to get nerdy. The first versions of “…she’s a flight risk” were on Blogspot. You had to code a counter into your landing page (I can’t remember if it was an external call or not). That wasn’t particularly satisfying though. At some point as the blog jumped off Blogger servers, first to Movable Type, then to Drupal, I started importing Apache logs by hand and running them through AWStats on a web server I installed on my laptop just for that purpose. I still have a bunch of the old http-access.log files, actually. I was running OpenBSD back then and it was a huge pain in the ass. Technorati became this huge thing about that time (2003-2004). If you read the Wikipedia article for Technorati today you would think it was always some kind of advertising platform. One article on the death of Technorati (which I will not sully these pages by linking to) quips: “The Technorati Authority score was a status symbol, something that companies fought hard to improve.” Companies? What companies? Advertising platform? Early on it was anything but. Technorati was more like the h-index for blogs. You could see all the other blogs that linked to you, and measure your reach. It was a huge thing. I remember looking at it all the time, the desperate post-adolescent hoping against hope that the messages she was casting off in bottles were being picked up somewhere. Of course, now all the data analysis is provided (and captured by) big platforms. Even external blogs use Google Analytics. AWStats is a relic. The rise of blogging seemed such a revolutionary move to empower the individual poster against large entities and institutions. It certainly did that for me. Now Mark Zuckerberg knows what you ate for breakfast, and has sold that data to five firms by the time you are washing the dishes. What a shame.
You, humble reader, if you do in fact exist. If you even care. You are my safety net. In return I suppose I have to keep you entertained. Keep you reading. That’s the bargain. Keep your watchful eye on me- so that you might notice if I vanish suddenly. So that you might ask the questions that would save me. I will, in turn, try to keep you reading.

And if I must interest you, then I suppose I have to tell you about me and about how I came to take flight. To run. I suppose I have to make you care. I don’t know that I can, but I can tell you who I am- that is who I was. I can tell you what happened to me. I can tell you who I am running from. What I am running from. I can give you my story.

I’ll start to type it up. Post it here in segments, little wisps of me thrown out into the ether day by day, whenever I can.

It’s a long story and it begins long ago, far before I heard him whisper the words “…I am worried that she’s a flight risk.”

You, humble reader, if you do in fact exist. If you even care. You are my safety net. In return I suppose I have to keep you entertained. Keep you reading. That’s the bargain. Keep your watchful eye on me- so that you might notice if I vanish suddenly. So that you might ask the questions that would save me. I will, in turn, try to keep you reading.

And if I must interest you, then I suppose I have to tell you about me and about how I came to take flight. To run. I suppose I have to make you care. I don’t know that I can, but I can tell you who I am- that is who I was. I can tell you what happened to me. I can tell you who I am running from. What I am running from. I can give you my story.

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