Because I’m a terrible liar and I feel like I’m polluting the air if I’m going on about things that I don’t care about.
I tell true stories because then I don’t have to keep everything inside of me, pretending that the second martini I had the other night was no big thing. That taking the wrong exit off the bridge as I drove home was an honest mistake.
I tell true stories because, like the poet Alison Luterman says, “If something is in your way then it’s going your way,” which means the worry over those martinis is worth writing about because they are, well, in my way. I can pretend they don’t bother me. I can chalk it up to being tired and the fun of being with an old friend. But what did bother me was that wrong turn, how I found myself heading north late at night instead of south – which gets me thinking about the other areas where I am going the wrong way.
I tell true stories because of these bridges, the ones that connect you to me when we reach for real words that accurately describe the approximate weight of our love and our sadness, words that speak to what’s actually happening in our marriages and in our relationships, how we are dealing with aging – that march toward the inevitable – and how honestly we’re living our lives in the face of that.
I go deep and I get real in person and on the page because I want to live in a world where I can run into a teacher from my kid’s school who I only know peripherally, and after the usual chatter about how my daughter is doing in college, we get down to the real stuff and I tell him about the other changes in my life and what my marriage looks like today – how I had underestimated my emotional attachment to my family, and how crushed I feel when I remember all the years I tried to get away from all of them because I couldn’t think straight with all that noise, because I thought they were getting in the way of my business and my success. Because I dreamed of being alone and now I practically am alone, and dreaming something and then living that dream can sometimes feel like a terrible, terrible surprise.
I want to live in a world where my response to his “how are you?” is honest, and which enables this man I barely know to talk about his life and what’s actually going on. To have 15-minutes of my day be spent in a vital connection with another person – whether that’s on or off the page.
This sustains me. It connects me. It enables me to show up with more vulnerability, which encourages your vulnerability, and which means that something authentic might happen between us. And then there’s my dream that when one of us makes these more true sounds, then others will make their own true sounds, and we’ll all end up like ducks meeting at a pond, making a terrible yacking racket of truth.
I tell true stories because there isn’t enough time for anything else.
If you would like to join my tribe of true storytellers, I welcome you. Telling True Stories, my 5-week online writing class starts on October 14th. Join us.