“She said it was either me or the durian,” a friend said years ago, pausing to let us laugh. “And I picked the durian.”
He laughed too, so I’m pretty sure he meant it to be funny. But I wonder. Sometimes I feel haunted by those words.
I sometimes feel guilty for writing this blog.
Rob was the one who started it, back in February, 2012, when he wrote our first post about going to Medan. But he also asked me to quit.
I know logically that there are always a lot of reasons that relationships don’t work out. It’s never one thing, or even two things. I’m pretty certain that even if I’d never tasted a durian, Rob and I would have been signing divorce papers at some point or another.
But some small, insecure corner of myself wonders. It’s why I feel a little bit guilty every time I push “Publish” on a post.
Today I feel mostly nervous. I looked for advice on the Emily Post website about the etiquette of announcing your divorce on a blog. Emily Post died before there was internet. I tried writing to Ask Amy. She hasn’t replied. UPDATE She did publish her advice to me.
I asked people in my life what I should do. Some people said I shouldn’t even mention my divorce on the blog. Rob hasn’t written a post for this site since early 2013. They said most of you would never notice he was gone.
But you have noticed. You noticed that he didn’t go with me to the Durian Symposium in June, or the Bao Sheng Durian Festival, or the summer Durian Tours, and that he wasn’t at my side in Singapore. I still get emails addressed to “Rob and Lindsay,” and probably will for a long time.
So I feel that it is unfair to Rob not to honor his role in this blog, and acknowledge his departure. Of the more than 400 posts I’ve published on this site, most of them contain photos of Rob. After durian, he’s by far the most common image, and my favorite subject to photograph, which sometimes required a lot of patience on his part.
It’s hard for me to imagine this site without him. Even after it was clear that I was the durian obsessive, I still felt like in ways like it was ours. The Year of the Durian was a story about us.
It’s why I’ve been slow to change our Facebook page to a photo of just myself. And why I haven’t yet figured out what to say when I change the About page. In some ways, these things are harder than signing the papers. It means reassessing my life and coming up with a new story about who I am.
In that reassessment, I’ve been thinking a lot about what this blog means to me and why I wouldn’t quit when Rob asked me to. I’ve been thinking a lot about why durian.
I know that when we started the Year of the Durian project, I felt lost. Something happened in college, and I emerged uncertain what I was passionate about. I’d entered a Journalism major with bright ideas about changing the world through the power of words, and exited feeling disillusioned, directionless, and having lost self-confidence as a writer.
That I found my voice and my passion (botany, horticulture, stinky fruits) is something I have to thank Rob for. This blog has given me so many new friends and put me in touch with people who are doing really amazing things. Durian gives me the courage to attempt new things that scare me, but are more awesome than I could have dreamed on my own (just last night, I gave a Musang King to my internet hero Hank Green from SciShow. He signed my Kindle).
The blog is a gift. And so I sometimes feel guilty.
What happens now?
I’m not sure. It’s unlikely I’m going to stop writing. I already have about 20 posts backed up from this past summer’s adventures in Malaysia and Singapore that, since they’re already written, I might as well share.
I’ve already made plans for a 2016 Bao Sheng Durian Festival and a 2016 Malaysian Durian Tour, and a Thai friend and I are even contemplating a Thailand Durian Tour.
There will be changes of course. The website itself is going to look very different soon. I’ve been working for months on a new, mobile friendly version of the site that will hopefully allow you to more easily navigate all the content (more than 400 posts) and find the information you’re looking for.
After that, I don’t know what the future has in store for me and durian and this blog. But I think I have the courage to find out.
(To end on something mildly amusing, the Durian Years of Marriage (with some hilarity) is an actual self-help book that uses durian as a metaphor for giving marriage advice. I didn’t read it, but maybe I should have.)