An Image

After a week hiatus, this is my second week in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. (It would be week three, but last week I didn’t realize that I needed to sign up again. My mistake)

My challenge comes from Zee. The challenge:

Write about the biggest decision you have ever had to make and include at least one lie in your story…

What I found to be the toughest part about this challenge wasn’t so much the content, but how to make the content interesting. What I mean by that is that if I am talking about myself, why should you, the reader, care? We don’t know each other, what makes you want to know about my life?

It’s a fine line, in my opinion, between a ‘dear diary’ and creative non-fiction. My challenge was to aim for the latter.

Hopefully I succeeded.

***********************************************

It’s funny how one brief moment of insight can push you to change your life. But maybe ‘insight’ is the wrong word. Maybe ‘inspiration’ or better yet, ‘warning.’

See, it was my first year in college and I made the decision to stay at home. It made sense, no need to pay money for rent or a dorm or food. I could just bus to school everyday.

But the problem was that when I was home, I wasn’t doing anything. Most of my friends were gone, so I would just sit around in my room all day, alone.

What eventually changed was that my Uncle moved into the house. I can still remember my Mom insisting that ‘he will only be here for two weeks, at the most.’ Four months later and he was still there.

One day I was sitting in my room, as I usually did, watching Family Guy, and eating Pringles. When I ran out of chips and needed to get more I saw my Uncle sitting in the living room watching Family Guy and eating Pringles. Basically doing the exact same thing.

That was my moment of insight. Or warning. It only lasted for a second, but it felt like an eternity. In that moment, I saw myself in 30 years, sitting exactly where he was sitting. In that moment, I was my Uncle. I had never grown up, never moved on.

When it comes to the town I grew up in, if you don’t leave when you have the chance, you will never leave. I decided it was time to move away. Far away.

As far away as I could get of that image.

I didn’t tell my parents when I started looking into international programs through my college. My first choices were in Asia. But no, I thought, that would be too difficult, learning one of those languages. Maybe an English speaking country? Yes, that makes more sense. England itself, maybe London? Too common a choice.

What about Ireland? That’s perfect. I had always wanted to visit Ireland, it had a beautiful image in my head. I settled on Dublin.

I was already finished with the applications when I finally told my parents. They said they were okay with the idea. I’m still certain that they thought it was just a notion that I was entertaining. That I would never, could never go through with it.

I still remember the looks on their faces when I got accepted.

Fast forward three months later and I am standing in the security line at the airport with my Dad. He convinced the ticket lady to give him a security pass, so he could see me to the gate. My Dad and I, we didn’t say a whole lot to each other, waiting for the boarding to begin. When it was time, we said our goodbyes and that was that.

On the plane, I look at my reflection in the window. It is an image of myself, and no one else. But I can picture you. Yes you, sitting at your computer, reading this.

By now I bet you’re wondering what in this story was a lie. Well, I’m not going to tell you. Not specifics anyways. Because if I told you why would you, why should you believe me?

The truth is that no matter how hard you try to tell the whole truth when you write about yourself, you are going to lie. Guaranteed. To tell the complete truth would make for extremely boring reading, because if you leave even a single detail out, you are lying by omission.

Lets also not forget the fact that deep down, we are all salesmen and women. We all seek to sell a crafted image of ourselves to each other. I did that here, everyone does. Think of every single memoir or biography you’ve ever read. Every single detail is crafted so that you’re reading a version of them that they want you to read. We all do it, even if we don’t realize it. Think about it, how many different versions of yourself are there? One for your co-workers, one for your friends, one for your spouse, for your kids. For your readers.

Maybe nothing in this story is true. Maybe I’m a completely different person than the one I specifically crafted here. I’m a 40 year old comic book nerd living in my parents basement. Maybe everything is true, and this admission is the lie. How could you possibly know? And maybe, just maybe this whole post-story-rant-to-reader is me further crafting an image of myself to you.

Or is it better to not think about it?

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12 responses to “An Image

  • K

    “The truth is that no matter how hard you try to tell the whole truth when you write about yourself, you are going to lie.” How true this is, especially in this age of virtual communications when we can be anyone we want and nobody is the wiser. Our words create the perfect cover, our anonymity giving us unlimited opportunities to test out all of those facets of ourselves we do not wear in public. This brings to mind the world of superheros that my children inhabit on a day-to-day basis. Writing is our way of donning our superhero cape. 🙂 At the end of the day, the story survives the lies we tell (and the truths it hides). Nice job on this!

  • Sunshine

    I really enjoyed reading your story this week. I am not sure who you are, or what your schtick is, but you captivated me, so I’d say you succeeded. Thanks 🙂

  • You can call me, 'Sir'

    I’ve wrestled with this a lot since starting to write ‘publicly’ and occasionally about very personal stuff. I’m not sure anyone is ever completely honest about everything that’s happened in their lives. We are who we are and sometimes the details behind how we became that person only serve to muddy the final product. Life is circumstantial and we do our best. It’s hard to judge others accurately when we’re so biased in judging ourselves.

  • Marian

    it’s my story and i’m sticking to it!
    i enjoyed reading this and look forward to more.

  • Lazidaisical

    I completely ditto what Sir said. Publicly writing is a bitch sometimes! If I write about anything major that’s happened to me, I have to disguise it in a fictional piece. Doesn’t mean the emotions aren’t real, it just means that’s not exactly how it happened. Does that matter? The only exception to this is the post I wrote for my 2nd II challenge and anything I end up writing about my baby girl 🙂 Great post.

  • wendryn

    I like this. It’s hard to write about personal matters, and it is impossible to be completely objective. The words we choose slant the perception of the reader. Definitely an interesting read.

  • Mandy

    So true. So real. Awesome post.

  • Indigo

    There is a saying – Reality is stranger than fiction. I think everyone lives small white lies. The ones who tell themselves tomorrow will be the day to diet, when in their heart they know they won’t. So many similiar instances. We’ll sit down and write that rudimentary 4 hours a day minimum (I’m not good with schedules), but lying to myself buoys hope.

    What makes some of us better writers, is our ability to lie to such a believable extent, even we don’t know where the lie ends and the truth begins.

    As for this challenge, I’ll say the one truth here is you’re a good writer. Fair enough. (Hugs)Indigo

  • Zee

    Sometimes trusting that the reader may indeed want to know what you have to say is also part of the process…great way to work with the prompt!

    Zee

  • jaszminedt

    Part of the reason I write under a pseudonym and have told only a handful of people about the existence of my blog is because I wanted to write a version of myself into being without judgment.
    I like your post but the conclusion especially, well done!

  • Coping | Tot Thoughts

    […] about me being you yet you know very well how impossible it is to even attempt this! You ask me to craft another version of myself, to formulate each and every detail that will shape this new memoir of me as you… but […]

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