11/3/09

I do not find him oafish*

My husband was not happy with the way I told this story. When he expressed his dissatisfaction, I reacted defensively. "That is too what you said!" I said, and then, "Well, that's what I remember that you said." And then I thought to myself -- "It's my blog, anyway, and I'll write what I want."

It is the case, of course, that although this blog is a truthful account of my life with my husband and my kids, sometimes that truth is a little bit...polished. I change words around, I add emphases and nuances, I manipulate just a hair here and there, in order to make my little stories more interesting or funny or poignant.

More to the point is the fact that although these are true stories that I'm telling, they are true stories from my perspective. And often the point of the story I tell is the way I feel about the story, which of course affects the way the story gets told.

But the main point is that while it's okay for me to tweak the stories to make myself look like an idiot (or a hero), it's not so okay to do that to my family (the idiot part, at least). They're people, not characters, and I need to respect that.

So I made Chris out to be more insensitive than in fact he was (which wasn't much at all), and I apologize for that.

-----------------------------

I wasn't at all offended by our little exchange, by the way. I thought it was funny. And I think it perfectly encapsulated the very theme and title of my little blog. It wasn't, to me, an instance of a dunderheaded husband forgetting something of importance to his more sentimental wife. It was just an example of how different people remember different moments. How many times have I related a Significant Childhood Memory, only to have my mom comment that she doesn't remember that at all, or my sister say that it happened in a different way? All these moments I'm recording about my daughters' childhoods -- in ten years, or twenty, when they read this (if they do), what would you wager that they say to me -- "Mom, I don't remember this happening, and why didn't you write about THIS thing instead?"

My memory of Chris's interaction with the trick-or-treaters, that Halloween fourteen years ago, marks a Very Significant Moment in my life. I didn't quite fall in love with him while observing him hand out candy; but it was close. I realized that I wanted to get to know him better; I knew that there was something about him that made me feel completely comfortable, which is not something I can say about very many other people. And my assessment of him on that night, as someone with a kind heart, someone who was personable and funny and warm, is a sort of touchstone for me now. I remember it with a rush of affection when I see him with our girls, or with my nephews and niece, or with the kids in the neighborhood, or when he talks about his students. On days that we fight about money or chores or what to have for dinner, or on nights when we're wrapped up in our own projects or too tired to carry on a decent conversation, it's there, in the back of my mind, an affirmation that I made the right choice.

So it would have been nice, when Mallory asked him what he liked about me that night, if he'd had a similarly significant memory to offer up. It would have been symmetrical. (I have to say, though, that the fact that he thought I was cute means a great deal to me anyway, because I've never thought of myself as being cute.) But I know that he must have had a similar moment, or some kind of gradual build up of moments, that led him to the same conclusion that I reached -- that we belonged together. (And I know he reached it pretty quickly, because by Thanksgiving 1995 we were moonily professing our love for each other.) And since I am certainly not very cute today, after fourteen years and two children and too many nights of not enough sleep and too many frozen pizza dinners, I have to believe that he has some kind of affirmation about me in the back of his mind too.

Or maybe I'm cuter than I think I am.

*which is a private joke

3 comments:

aimee said...

I think Chris is a great, funny and interesting guy with a warm heart and the fact that my kids absolutely think he is the bomb just makes him even more special.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Uncle Chris is certainly the best!

Mom

Chris said...

Hey, I'm all for different people remembering things differently, but I'm willing to bet that in the stories where your mom or siblings tell the story differently, it doesn't result in you looking like an insensitive stereotype. I know that wasn't your intention, but when you remember things that way, it makes me worry that 1. you really see me that way and 2. maybe I really am that way and don't see it. Which I don;t think is true, but it makes me wonder.

I remember that night 14 years ago very clearly. I was nervous. I wanted to impress you. But honestly, I didn't know hardly anything about you since I barely knew you; and let's face it, you weren't helping me out at all because well, you were the shy, quiet type. So there really wasn't much else I COULD notice about you at that point other than the way you looked. I could tell you were down to earth, very intelligent and you laughed at my jokes, but you were also kind of reserved ad quiet. I suppose I was giving you more to go on than you were giving me at first. I remember our early dating very vividly; but sometimes I think you forgot how hard it was it in the beginning to get to know you.

I totally get "2 sides to every story". Just as long as it doesn't result in someone getting misrepresented, is all. I care what other people think, at least in my own family. None of it was meant to make you apologize, or change the way you write. Your blog is usually quite brilliant.