They are funny things, memories, but not necessarily in a ha-ha way. If anyone has ever asked a couple to describe their rememberings from any area or time of their shared life, you will have felt, as I have, that they definitely weren’t there together.
When my own mum recounts something from my childhood, she tells it in a way that assures me I was in another family at the time. I used to think she was right and that I was wrong – ever the swing from either to or – and that this ‘wrong’ in me was because I……..what? Wanted it to be different? possibly. Refused to acknowledge the truth? possibly. Had blanked out reality in favour of fairyland? possibly.
Nowadays I see it differently because I understand that she saw me through her own eyes, as a child inside her life and that wasn’t how I saw it at all. I looked with my own eyes, filtered each experience through my own emotions, needs, hopes and dreams, which were never hers. She has ideas for me that I didn’t like or understand or even want. So, the battle begins early in a life, the battle for a good hold on reality.
And who is to say what Reality is?
Even in a marriage, where two supposed adults, really still children themselves, encounter days and times and moments together, the looking will differ to varying degrees. Where one sees rain, the other sees the light inside a raindrop. One feels he cold, the other doesn’t, so was that house a cold, uncomfortable one or was it a wonderful home, or was it both at the same time? And, in the spinning out of the tale of of it, who will name it?
Then, there are the ears that hear that tale. Are they on one side or on the other according to who or what they personally relate to? If I am angry about something or someone, I will, however ‘good hearted’ I may be, paint them in certain colours, and colours stick, words stick, take root and grow.
It isn’t as simple as the glass half-full, half-empty cliche. Cliches are always too simple, sounding like goodly truths but lacking substance, texture, depth and context. They may help to elevate our thoughts and this is helpful indeed, but no living soul is ever one type of person or another. To get from black to white and back again, we must allow and embrace a thousand shades of grey, and it is inside those greys we mostly live out our days.
So, now, as an old woman (I love being an old woman, choosing, as I do, the picture of old age as a cumulation of experience and wisdom and of letting go) I can hear a story re-spoken and learn, from it’s presentation, more about the person speaking it out than I ever do about the ‘facts’. I even hear my own voice doing the telling and notice where I put the emphasis, what colours I choose, what body language I employ, what tone. And it often smiles me a lot.
On days when I only see the rain, there is a moan and a whine in any telling out. The simple question How are You? can see me grabbing someone’s hand and leading them into a miserable dark wet cavern littered with the old bones of all the women I hoped to become and allowed to die without a voice. On days when I am energetic enough to slip between the raindrops, pausing to catch the warmth of their reflected light, I can swirl us both into the sky along with the fairies and the angels and actually feel critical of their need to tell me about the bunions on their big toes.
Same circumstances. Exactly the same circumstances. The days are the same, the tasks the same, the view the same, and yet everything is different.
So, although we are all within the parameters of this day Friday September 20th, and even if we spend a part of it together, we will tell very stories about it’s 24 hour span.
Which of us is ‘right’ I wonder?