There are a few things in life I love more than a good story. Getting lost in a life other than my own — either because it’s so very much the same or because it is so incredibly and dramatically different — has always appealed to me. I think it’s probably because I spend so much of my time turning conversations and situations over and over in my head, looking for patterns. Looking for something familiar. Looking for me.
Last week was a strange week full of strange stories.
First, a childhood friend and I reconnected. Our friendship was short, only because we were at the age where proximity matters when we parted ways. We we reconnected, we exchanged messages and it brought back such a flood of these half-memories. Like when her mom bought her a little gray tabby and she named it “Sarah”, or when I accidentally wet the bed during a sleep over. Eating cheese toast and watching “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” during the day with the curtains drawn. Sitting on a dusty curb in the parking lot of an apartment complex telling stories and coaxing stray kittens out from under a boat trailer while her father did god-knows-what in one of the apartments. I don’t remember much else about our friendship but in her message to me, she said I was a great friend to her during that time in her life. I felt flattered and…sad. Hindsight lets me see that she had it really rough for an 8 year old girl. A mom who worked long hours, a father with a drinking problem. But I couldn’t see it then and it seemed so strange to me that I could be part of someone else’s story. Eight year old oblivious me with my Dolly Dingle Paper Dolls, my doll house.
Then, someone I follow on Twitter started tweeting some really troubling things about being so out of his mind he was concerned for his own safety. He grew quiet for several hours then, and I watched this little section of the world swell around him, sending him messages of hope, love, concern. Doing anything and everything they could to protect him from himself. Heck, even I sent a message or two. At the end of the day, I would want someone to do the same for me and it takes such little energy to be compassionate when someone is clearly going through hell. Losing people he loved, his job, his home. Never had I corresponded with him before that day, but suddenly here I was a part of this story, only this story had so very little to do with any of my realities.
I’ve been wanting to come back to this place for so long. I pull up a blank page and stare. Some days, I write a paragraph or two and delete the whole thing because it reads more like a laundry list of daily tasks. A list of excuses for being somewhere other than here. And I just leave. I turn away from this space because I somehow convinced myself that I didn’t belong. That I didn’t have a story, and that if I did it wasn’t worth sharing. That no one would care. I’m not sure I cared either.
Today, though? I’m starting a new story. A story about a girl who is finding her way back. Finding her voice. Finding her place in the story.