The Stories We Forget to Tell

I met Jonathan (my husband) when I came home from class one rainy Thursday and he was sitting on my couch in my apartment. My roommate had friends over and he had been included in the group.

One of Aiden’s language arts lessons and also one of Quinn’s language arts lessons (from completely separate curriculum choices) explained this week that an ellipsis signifies a break in narrative or a quotation. I don’t use ellipses as much as I did once upon a time, but one goes here. It’s funny how three little dots can cover so much descriptive territory.

It had been the kind of rainy day where an umbrella is useless – the rain hit the concrete and asphalt and bounced back up. I had felt soggy for most of the day, which is why instead of going out for late dinner with friends from my 7pm – 8:15 class (our Thursday routine), I went back to the apartment.

Once upon a time I told the story quite frequently. Now, more than 15 years later, I’m not sure our children actually know it.

Brennan didn’t remember that between meeting her dad and getting engaged to him there was a fire at my apartment complex. The actual fire was in the upper story of our building, but I lost things I still wish I had because we were in the ground level and all the water and sewage overflow ended up in our floor.

I think about my furniture, my shoes, my jewelry that had fallen in the bathroom floor so it was abandoned because I was scared to feel around for it, and the art history textbook that I loved even though I think I got a C in that class. It was on the bottom shelf of my bookcase. I would flip through it and sigh about how the vocabulary terms wouldn’t stick in my brain.

There was a mention of the Kirklin Clinic, where my aunt worked, which felt like a hug from God when I found it in the architecture section, and I HAD BEEN THERE. I hadn’t been to Paris or New York City (at that point), but I knew exactly where the parking lot sat that had been intended to house a mirror replica with crosswalks and So. Much. Glass. The project ran out of funds before they could pretend to start on the other half of the facility. I think about it any time we eat at Newk’s downtown, because we can’t eat at the Burly Early, because it closed down. I walked past that parking lot fairly often after I transferred to UAB and would eat lunch with my aunt.

Connections, all over the place. Planet Earth is so big and is covered with so many types of things, and yet there are patterns and connections that never cease to amaze.

My two middle kids hate going to sleep, which is great and terrible because I hate going to sleep. I feel vindicated, validated, and persecuted – all at the same time. I need some time, quiet and alone, before I can sleep. Well. I say QUIET, but let me be more honest and say that sometimes what I need is loud angry music poured into my ears through earbuds from the magic box that is my iPhone.

We’re living in the future, so my children don’t know what it’s like to have a stereo system and cassette tapes and CDs and limits. But they are figuring out that if you are quiet, you can stay awake until 1:30 in the morning *and not get in trouble*, and their mid-night entertainment choices are not so different than mine were at about their ages, which is not so different than mine are now.

I’m awake now at 1 in the morning because just before midnight Annie was already asleep and Brennan was full of “You know how…” statements that resulted in discussions of information including – but not limited to – how contractions work to cause babies to be born, what we could learn about with anatomy lessons if she can wait until next year (I was going to do botany then zoology then anatomy so it will be after Christmas 2021 before we get to it), why I buy so many books with great art in them, what havoc low pressure systems wreak on pregnant women (nine years ago I was sitting on the couch backwards trying to breathe through heavy contractions praying to God to not have to go to the hospital that night in that stupid storm to give birth to Brennan)… I don’t remember what else we talked about, but at one point she looked at me and said, “Maybe when I am grown up we will talk late at night and you will say ‘DO YOU REMEMBER HOW WE USED TO DO THIS WHEN YOU WERE A KID?!?'”

A pal from freshman year of college – who introduced me to blogging and got me a Gmail beta account and also led me to Facebook, aanndd who writes for Harvard Business Review now – wrote a poem, um, 18 years ago, maybe, and one line of it was, “Why does Truth wait until Midnight?”

I don’t remember the rest of the poem. But I know with all of my heart NOW that Truth waits until Midnight because the pressing issues of Day have lost their urgency, and we have time to remember the stories that we used to tell frequently, the stories that used to feel like obvious cornerstones of our experiences, that we just don’t think to tell anymore.

I got an email about renewing thebarntales.com – the email mentioned that if I renew and also put the address up for auction, I could possibly make over $1000 to part with it.

For about a decade this has felt like a really important part of me. I Have Websites. Even when I was so frazzled that I couldn’t figure out how to string words together to post on the blogs hosted at the websites, I felt like I owed them something. But I was already wondering if I really want to keep throwing money at this. I’m not sure that I still need this as a cornerstone of my story.

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