Some years ago I heard Abigail Disney speak about her documentary films and about her belief in the importance of telling women's stories. She had made a film about women and war, she said, because women have...
Let’s face it, Father’s Day always feels like something of a lesser holiday, compared to Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is hyped weeks in advance, with everyone from Hallmark to FDS to Home Depot hawking...
I almost never do this, pull narrative from the comment section of this site and present it alongside my own narrative, because that just seems so meta, although maybe I should, because it’s not like I don’t get meta – that whole last post was about as meta as it gets – and anyway so much of the commentary that you all contribute here is just so ridiculously smart, so I really should just get over myself and my conviction that I’m the lone storyteller here and that it’s not a good blog week if I don’t post a picture of my babies and just let you guys do more of the talking. Because, seriously:
My mother was and still is an inveterate teller of tall tales, especially in conversation with children. She delights in the wide-eyed fascination of children with all things fantastic, and decided very early in her career as a mother that it was part of her job to keep the eyes of her own children and those of any children who accidentally wandered into range of hearing as wide as possible.
Accordingly, I grew up in a home in which it seemed entirely possible that there were sea creatures living in the plumbing and gnomes hiding in the closets. There were fairies and elves and imps and other magical creatures in the woods behind our house, and they lived in harmony with the animals there – the squirrels and birds that I saw every day, and the raccoons and skunks that I saw less often but knew well from the tracks in our backyard, tracks that my mother was very careful to point out and explain as evidence of the late-night forest creature moondances that occurred a few times each month. I knew that the forest creatures maintained harmony in their community through the frequent town-hall meetings that they held in a mossy stump – I knew this because my mother showed me exactly where they all sat during these meetings and held up various broken twigs and branches (used as benches) as evidence. I knew that I should never, ever pick toadstools, because if I did so I would be destroying the shelter of the littlest creatures of the forest.
I also knew that my sister and I came from a cabbage patch, and that if we unscrewed our bellybuttons, our bums would fall off. When I got old enough to start doubting these tales, I would confront my mother upon each telling: are you telling me a story?
Of course I am, my darling, she’d reply. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not telling you the truth.
When I received the call telling me that my father had died, I cried. I cried loud, I cried hard, I fell to the ground and clutched at my aching chest and I wailed. And then, curled up on the floor, phone in hand, I tweeted.
I tweeted because it was instinct. I tweeted because it was the only thing that I could think of to do. I tweeted because I needed to get the words that were reverberating in my head and smashing against the walls of my mind out out out and into the world so that I could step back and see them/hear them/feel them and know that they weren’t just the narrative of some nightmare conjured up by that corner of my soul that holds and nurtures its darkest fears. I needed to face the words, and know that they were true. I needed to take control of the narration of the terrible story that was unfolding. I needed to speak. I needed to write.