Families are weird.

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And don’t forget it. Weird families make great stories. Who wants a story about a husband and wife who are loving and raise two adorable children? Nobody. But, when you’re in the throes of a crazy life, you’re wishing for one of those peaceful lives that isn’t worth telling a single story about.

When the kids were in high school, I’d say, God! If there were any more drama in this household, I’d open a theatre! And they weren’t the kind of kids that were part of relationships with pecking order; they didn’t belong to cliques, they didn’t have to show off clothes or shoes or other stuff, they didn’t create drama about being invited to prom. Amy took three girls to prom. She went in with two of them and one waited for her in the car. (I’m not kidding here.) Steve took one girl to prom and wore a tux and Chuck Taylors. But still, there was drama—the girlfriends, parties, and more late night parties, our house had parties and noise complaints. And our neighbors, who are Christians, prayed to God that he would send Steve far away and when Steve took off to Nepal, they renewed their vows to the Christian church to which they belonged as well they might. That is a God that answers unlikely prayers on a grand scale.

Our family has four children and their significant others. So that makes ten of us in the family. Four kids all bringing home girls. Lots of girls. Tall girls and skinny girls, smart girls and crazy girls, tattooed girls, punk girls, rock and roll girls, a lot of girls. Two of the boys are musicians so that’s a lot of girls right there, one is a gamer, so there you have the geek girls, and one is a frighteningly smart lesbian, so you have the clever gay girls. Only one is married, and their marriage seems to have little drama and that’s a good thing. My daughter’s been with her girlfriend five years and we all like the girl friend so not a lot of drama there. The youngest one hasn’t settled down yet and the Portland son has a smart gamer girlfriend from England. She’s smart, but she seems even smarter, if that’s possible because a British accent always amplifies how smart you seem.

So we have less drama now, but enough for stories. The problem for writers is choosing what stories we should tell. Do you want to write the story of your mother-in-law or any of your in laws for that matter? And those stories of your kids and your spouse? you should be careful. And your exes? Be very careful. My friend Nicelle has written a story in poetry called Becoming Judas with fingers all through her family history. When it comes out, surely the members of her family will think, “That’s not the way I remember it.” Hopefully they’ll remind themselves that this is her story.

My story:
He rescued me.

His story:
I rescued him.

And we’re both remembering the same story.
And we’re both right.

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Published in: on May 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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