Our latest assignment in memoir class is to take a well-worn family story, told so often it has a punchline and fits neatly into a little box, and upend it by asking questions, giving more context and unraveling all the threads that made it fit so nicely into that little box.
The challenge is that until now, we have been working to take the messiness of real life and make it nice and cohesive. That little box gives our life stories shape and meaning. Now I’m supposed to tell you a story that already was tied up with a neat little bow and make it messy?
Challenge accepted. I have two such stories in mind:
- Watching on the petcam as Isis pulls the stuffing out of the couch.
- Isis bolting from our off-leash training session to steal a ball from a Mexican soccer game while the players shouted, “Perro! Perro!”
Not sure how I’m going to unravel those threads. Tying stuff up with a bow is a hard habit to break.
March 8 update: I’ve already had one revelation. These were the funniest of such events, but they weren’t isolated. Isis had torn that couch months before. She’d broken away from me before, two or three seriously embarrassing times. Putting all the context behind it takes away the surprise factor, the punchline, if you will, and reveals a pattern of behavior.