It has legs, that one. But, I’d like to take it a bit further.
Think, if you will, about your stories. Or the stories that you know about people in your life. Not just any stories, but the defining kind.
Once upon a time, I was accused of being a lesbian by a scary-ass, punk rocker, skin headed girl. She wore rolled up jeans, white undershirts and black combat boots, she smoked cigarettes and listened to the Violent Femmes. It was 1984. And we were eleven. It was ‘tales of a 6th grade nightmare’.
There was nothing okay about being called gay in the 80’s. To this day, it’s a horrid thing for an adolescent kid to bear. But then, I dare say, it was even worse. There was nothing about it that was okay or, seemingly, survivable.
I remember crying for exactly one afternoon. And then I just started to fight. I literally steamrolled my way through. I took no prisoners. I made it out of this particular hell, but there were casualties. And I made it because I had to.
I could go on. I could provide intense details. I could bare my soul to you.
Literally, I would be baring my soul.
It’s come to my attention—reflecting on my own stories (and this one, while soul-defining, is only the point of the pencil) and looking back on stories other people have told me about themselves, and then comparing the ‘us’ in the old stories to the people we are now—that, for better or for worse, we are who we are.
Of course we can change, grow, become. We can learn how to run a business or translate our skills, we can stop liking overalls and start liking short skirts and tall boots, we can crave time alone—when before it was unbearable. Surely, I can’t deny that there are certain parts of me that are the poster girl for one’s ability to transform.
Or can I?
There’s a pretty good chance that these changes are purely reflections, evidence even, of me just becoming more me.
Which is why I think that if you want to really know who someone is, I think you might want to look beyond ‘mom’ and go straight to the stories, the history, the past. The moments when, once upon a time, the shit hit the fan.
How did you/he/she start it? How did you/he/she act during it? And how did you/he/she leave it?
Because as much as I love storytelling, the details of the stories aren’t the important parts. The important things to note are the M.O.’s that poke out surreptitiously from under the carpets of these tales like police search lights.
I have more of those stories. We all do. Some of them, I’m proud of. Some…not so much. I’ll possibly share them with you over a dirty martini sometime…
But, if I piece together who I was—beginning, middle and end— during those early stories, I get an awfully accurate picture of who I am now. The good, the evil, the promise, the demise, the capabilities, the shortcomings, the beauty, the fug.
That’s just me.
Same bones—plus or minus some density, same face—plus or minus some elasticity and wrinkles, same hair—plus or minus some fullness and color. And the same basic self—plus or minus some scars, lessons learned, experiences ignored and victories tucked in deep.
The core of our physical selves doesn’t change. Which begs the question, why would the core of our metaphysical selves change? Last I checked, no one was growing new DNA.
Image credit: meerkatjes