Of the not so sublime but still somewhat relevant details…
I was born in Boston to parents who separated and divorced two years later. Thank the Gods. If I had grown up with both of them. I would be blogging from the shared terminal at a mental institution. I grew up in the city and in the suburbs. Ironically, Steve, my late husband’s story was also unrolling in and around Boston where he was living, nearly dying, recovering from a stroke (at twenty), undergoing revolutionary surgery and graduating from college.
Steve and I were exactly twenty years apart, but our parents are the same age. He was the example of why marriage and pregnancy directly after high school might not be the best idea. I’m a less compelling but still worth mentioning argument for not waiting until you’re 39 and 44 respectively to have children at all. Steve asked me from time to time, half seriously, very sincerely and somewhat humorously “where were you when I was in my thirties?.” My initial automatic response became my standard answer. “I expect I was busy being eight.” And I was.
Steve was born with a severe congenital heart defect. In the terms that I understand, he had such a large hole in one valve and aortic wall that he was essentially left with a two-chambered heart. This was in 1957. Doctors repeatedly told my mother in law, Marlene (my hero) to take Steve home and keep him as comfortable and loved as possible, because even with the most advanced surgery available, he wouldn’t live to be a year old. He disrupted their predictions by fifty-two years. Steve’s childhood spanned surgeries, stays in an oxygen tent, visiting the trolley museum, that he would one day help to run, tinkering with toy trains and then real streetcar engines and wondering where his father went. When Steve was seven and his sister was five, my father in law eloped with his secretary.
Medical consultations, his daughter’s ballet performances and Steve’s early life simply ceased to be part of his scene.
Certainly, the unanswered questions and the unknown details of my father in law–I’ll call him WG–and his Lady are still coming to the surface–like the photographic evidence that they were, once, at least good looking enough that someone might have indeed wished to run off with them.–I discovered about a year ago that as a younger couple they could have given Street Car era Marlon and any number of pretty actresses a run for their money. I believe that as sordid and cliché as their decisions might have been, it illustrates a very common theme in my view of the world. We want to rely on the facts set down in the official forms, but the details on paper do not always match the true story. Further, the best answer to the majority of questions about any historic event, personal or public, should probably be “I don’t know, although this is what I think happened” instead of “this is how it was.” So having used them as an example of my belief in embracing the reality of the Unknown Details in life, I will try to leave them out of my writing from now on.
And a final truth this morning? I’ve checked my blog and discovered no new readers. Understandable enough. The pressure is lurking, as it does in so many corners of my psyche…How can I justify the time to do this? How can I presume to say that my blog will be sufficiently interesting material? How can I match the heights of Elizabeth Gilbert and the Julie and Julia girl? I’m not them. I’m the woman who wants desperately to write a blog, tries for months to think of an original idea and then realizes that what I really wish is that I had had the Eat Pray Love or the Julie/Julia idea first. Go Figure.