22 November 2009

5 the family

i started keeping a blog when i moved to the city. i began because ostensibly my big city life would be filled with such a multitude of exotic goings-on and there was simply no other way to chronicle all i was doing so my droves of admirers could keep up.

that's what i honestly thought at the time.

in truth, the cocktail of my motivations was probably, however unconsciously, decidedly more mixed. yes, i'd just been dumped and, in 2005, a blog seemed an appropriately avant garde means of flaunting my newfound glamor. but also there was a certain compulsion. an almost embarrassingly great need. for what? even after four years, i'm still not quite sure.

i grew up in a house where art was always present. my mum played the piano and cross-stitched and did calligraphy and sewed. the woman sent me to prom in badgley mischka couture. that is a debt no daughter can repay.

my father collected. and, done the way he did it, believe me, it was artful. his spaces were always chock full of wonderfully ancient things. old books, old cameras, old pots, old pictures, old pens.

from an early age, my birthdays were celebrated with prints signed by the artist, with commemorative messages from my parents scrawled on the frame's backing. for the longest time, i thought everyone did this. it was only as i grew older that i realized no one does this but us.

because we're a kind of special crowd. we do things a little different. dean burrito and belle grande. a new yorker, a southern miss and their yankee brat. we wear funny hats at christmas. we hold hands when we pray.

in my family, handmade gifts always received the most enthusiastic reception. being one for both frugality and enthusiastic receptions, this was the route i often went. but it rarely panned out as i dreamed and more often than not i wound up writing something at the last minute. because writing was the easy way out.

i wrote a lot as a kid. there was a play or two thrown in for good measure, but mostly there were stories. goshawful, horridly implausible stories. some of them torrid romances, most of them mysteries, all of them inexplicably influenced by the albertville winter olympics of 1992. (seriously. even my confederate soldiers won figure skating gold.)

well into high school, i would while away the nights sitting before my dad's word processor, typing up masterworks in a primitive version of a program that would ten years later become microsoft word. awful and immature as they were, my parents lavished them with such praise that i kept writing.

these pieces seem to crawl out of the woodwork now. every time i go home, my mum has found another and tenderly laid it on my bed.

i no longer write fiction. i never had the patience for plot.

gilbert blythe told anne shirley to write about what she knew. i never really planned on writing. because words always seemed so dangerous, so final. and i am a girl who all too frequently says things she doesn't mean.

as i grew older, when asked if i wanted to be a writer, i would defiantly say i didn't. i wanted to be a vet or a biologist or an editor. i didn't want to write. never. ever. and i certainly didn't intend to write about my family. because what could possibly be more dangerous than that?

but sometimes things just kind of happen, somewhere along the way. and amid the multitude of goings-on in my city life, i find myself always returning to them. to my family and their stories. again. and again. and again.

i have no brothers or sisters. no one else grew up in my home. no one else remembers my mother cooking their pancakes in the shape of bunnies or my father waking them on their birthday playing assorted musical instruments from a mayan mariachi band. these memories are mine and mine alone. inaccurate and exaggerated and romanticized as they may be, they are mine.

gilbert blythe told anne shirley to write about what she knew and this is what i keep coming home to. my family is all i truly know. my family and those moments, almost too fluttering sweet to be substantial, when, in the stillness of the adventure, we were all utterly ourselves. silly. giggling. free. and loved.


Acer Negundo said...

You're a terrific and gifted writer. Wow.
Also the more I read, yes, you could be my little American sister.

Meggie said...

I used to love your parents house and that old piano. And our matching snow globes from Broadway Cares. LOL. Beautiful piece, Caro.

Lara Ehrlich said...


Linda said...

this one goes on the Oral Reading list.

oline said...

oooh, i LOVE it when i make Oral Reading.