I have the flu. I’ve done all the things I should to avoid it; and yet, here I am, wearing two sweatshirts and a hat indoors with a massive cup of tea at my computer, longing for the outside world. That’s where I’ve been for the past few months, in the outside world. So much has been going on out there, too: talking about my book, and selling that book, and working with people in my community. Awesome. Then there was Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, and Epiphany… then more work and then… the Flu.
The Universe is clever that way. What I’ve wanted, more than anything, has been a little time to rest. And what eases the Flu? Rest.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned at all, while lying around pouting, it is this:
Everyone has a story.
I’m not talking about the individual life stories that keep track of who we are and where we’ve been. I mean that Story of Us that keeps people plugged into their roots, and is so closely ingrained in our identities that there is no question, internally, of what we’re made of.
No matter where in the world I turn up lately, someone comes up and wants to tell me their story.
My own family story is rich in railroads, baseball, bootlegging and country living. It is full of aspiration and loving so deeply you think it might make you keel over. And so is everyone else’s.
- The cousins who introduced themselves and told me that this day is the first they’ve ever been out together. Curious, but not a showstopper. Then they told me that they didn’t know the other existed until they ran into one another at the deli counter the week before, each thinking the other looked familiar. “She looked like me, like we ought to be kin. And we are. I knew it the moment I looked her in the eye.”
- The man who said that family history is lovely and all that, but it’s painful for those who feel as if they have no record of themselves before they became an adult. “All I learned from my mother is that, at the end of the day, I am on my own.”
- The guy who said, “My story is about waking up in the morning and being so happy to be here, after cancer. I’m going to tell my kids my story, so that they can tell their kids about us.”
- “Every youngest son in our family is a priest. I wonder if the parents feel like it’s some kind of sacrifice…”
- “Our family loves to dance… every family party; my Aunt Ella would turn on the stereo…”
And so, in doing nothing more than living our lives, as sweet or as bitter as we’ve designed them to be we, tell our stories. We make them by by carving our part out of what they were before we even got here, in hopes of what they’ll be later on…Every action we take is another sentence a Story Of Us. I know how I want my story to read, and it’s going to be a long one. For now, I’m going back to bed. Can’t wait to see what I’ll find later on.