On telling stories

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I am interested today in this idea: We tell ourselves stories, we tell other people stories, in order to make sense of who we are and who we have been and the actions and events that we believe have shaped us into ourselves. We use stories to make sense of things that make no sense, for heartless actions, and for heedless moves. You think through your life and say to the person sitting next to you on the plane, to the nonfiction class you take, to the man you fall in love with, and you say I am the way I am because of…

I am starting to learn my stories, the stories that explain things. I tell the story about Julie and I stealing her parents car to drive to Wallgreens. I tell a story about Alex. I tell the story about you. I tell my early years in California like a warning tale. I tell the story of making music. And I tell the story of moving to Idaho. Those are the stories I tell to make excuses and to clarify where things turned in my life. Why I am this way, for better or worse, is captured in these tales. And I look into them and watch those other me’s make these decisions. And it is almost as if I cannot take credit or responsibility. That girl was stronger than I am. That girl was more selfish than I am. That girl was young, is usually the tag line.

I am curious about how these narratives not only come from our lips but why in the way they do. I find myself censoring certain aspects, altering the truth for a more truer true, one that really captures the explanation. But, the questions is, what if anything do we owe those old versions of ourselves who put us where we are now?

I am writing an essay right now about this, or something close to it, and in it I have framed myself at a wedding recently. I am watching an ex boyfriend who won’t look at me interact with his new wife. And in this moment I can feel the old me, the one who knew these high school friends, I feel her rubbing up against me so close to the surface I am startled by it. And it is that very moment that spurs these questions, she was so wholly other and so entirely me that I cannot see how to reconcile the two. She is a sadistic and manipulative little girl, attention hungry, and all collarbones. And the fact that something so minor could bring her back to life terrifies me, and I am trying to write a narrative that will somehow explain all of it.