03 July 2016

2 we are family

we're lying in bed and have just turned the lights off when STZ says, breathless with excitement, garebear is even more amazing than i imagined.

we're in memphis. and it sounds not as though she has met a real person but experienced a transformative magical event.

it was a comment of the sort one makes upon eating The Falafel in paris or going to versailles. except, in this case, we were talking about my dad.

and i was reminded of that one time croftie came with me to memphis and of how watching her watching my family was like watching a kid see a beloved book come alive.

again and again, something would happen about which she had already read (and maybe not quite believed), and she would turn to me, wide-eyed in amazement, and it would remain unspoken, what she was feeling, but i knew. she was realizing that what she had read was true.

we are this weird. and, alternatively, this awesome.

there was a time when this was extremely disconcerting to my parents. during the visit with croftie, my mum, noting croftie's loaded glances, would then turn to me with a raised brow.

i couldn't tell if she felt observed or exposed or sort of narratively surveilled. but she was aware that her behavior excited a strange response in croftie, that croftie knew more about her than she maybe should, and that, for this, i was somehow to blame.

in the intervening years, my parents have read much of what i've written about them. they are privy to what i have done to them and they approve.

more than any of the other writing i have done, the silly stories i have written about my family have convinced my parents that i really am a writer. accordingly, it seems i am now given carte blanche.  

when my people met in memphis last month, there were exclamations galore amongst them about how wonderful it was to be meeting my "characters."

it was, in some ways, like a whole convention of my characters and, this time, my parents didn't bat a lash. it is no longer an oddity to them that the minutiae of their eccentricities have been publicized. it has become, instead, a source of pride.

but, actually, i don't think STZ's response to garebear had anything to do with this. over dinner the other night, she reiterated how much she enjoyed meeting garebear and i was reminded that there was this moment in memphis, where garebear was holding court with people in the kitchen and i and assorted girlfriends were out on the porch.

in bed that night, when STZ said garebear was better than she'd imagined, she also told me what he had told them when they were all in the kitchen. about how he'd said that, really, we don't know what life holds and there's no one way anyone's life should have to look because we are all different and we all want different things from the one life we have and so we should feel a great sense of liberty and embrace that and explore different things and be bold and have adventures and not worry what everyone else thinks.

STZ said she found that terribly reassuring, hearing my father say this.

i told her that it was hilarious because it is the line i have been feeding him for years.

when i saw her in london, STZ reiterated that garebear was better than she imagined. and this time i saw how much her feelings towards him have to do with that moment in the kitchen and what, in that moment, he represents: a father who listens to his daughter and, accordingly, eventually, expands his sense of what is possible for her.

for this is what we restless daughters really, really need: to be believed.