Sunday, January 18, 2009

Write the Story of Your Life in 10 minutes?

I have a much older half-brother. Maybe he's 70. And maybe he's not my half-brother. He could be just a step-brother. That's a secret my father took to his grave. But that's another whole family tree blog that I don't plan on starting though if I did the title might be Can Only See the Forest, Not the Tree. Or maybe Family Bramble. Or Through Thicket and Thin. Or how about Please Tell Me Who My Siblings Are In Case I Need A Kidney? Anyhow, my aunt just emailed me and said J. seems to have a girlfriend. Cool. HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS?  
I had date #5 with the Match.com guy last night and I am just completely stymied. How many Friday night dinners and Saturday night theatre dates will it take before I feel like I know him? How do people get to know one another when there's more past than future? Every day that ticks by is one more calendar square of some stranger's/future date's life that I have no clue about.
The theatre piece we went to last night was a series of vignettes performed by women writers on the subject of motherhood. Crucial bits of these women's lives LIVE ON STAGE. I went because my friend Elizabeth was in it. We've taken memoir writing classes together and are in a writing group. Memoir cuts to the chase. You learn your fellow memoir writers' big stories right away.  I've never shared a meal with Elizabeth at her dining room table. I've never gone to the movies with her, prowled the mall, lazed the day away with her on the beach, babysat her kids, but I know her big story--the thing that has changed her into who she is now, and she knows mine.  
But how do I get to know this guy I like, that I'm probably repelling because I am so stand-offish and look at him like he's a stranger? Should I date only memoir writers? Not too many men there.
Mr. Match practically leapt into his car to drive away from me last night. Maybe if I ever see him again I'll ask him to write me the story of his life in 10 minutes.  This is a writing exercise that's often used in memoir classes. There's an even shorter version of this idea that's come out in an anthology called Six Word Memoirs.  Some examples are: "One long train ride into darkness." (Wayne Colodny) "Wolf! she cried.  No one listened." (May Lee) I think perhaps this idea originated with a Dickens' character in Great Expectations, one of the books I'm currently obsessed with.  When Magwitch tells Pip the story of his life, this is how he puts it: "In jail and out of jail, in jail and out of jail, in jail and out of jail. There, you've got it". 
That's what I want--well, not that exactly, but THE STORY.



3 comments:

Jules said...

does #5 know your blog?

Ex-in-the-City said...

The last guy I let know about the blog ran screaming into cyberspace. But ya know, I think that probably saved both of us a lot of time.

Elizabeth said...

I'd lay off the memoir writers as potential mates. Unless it's someone like George Clooney.