I had someone ask me in conversation, “Are you the kind of person who…?” and she proceeded to say something that I didn’t find particularly flattering. Having known this person for no more than thirty minutes, I dismissed it with a shrug. But, as I raced through the rest of my day, her question returned to my thoughts.
“Am I the kind of person who…”
When I thought about what prompted her to ask the question, I realized that our conversation leading up to it could easily have led her to believe that I am, indeed, that kind of person. Without further context, without history or mutual friends or any kind of connection, I understand her conclusion.
Recently, a good friend of ten years, told me he never realized I was born (and spent many subsequent summers) down south. He didn’t know the rich history of my childhood, of hazy Louisiana days spent slapping the bugs away by the edge of the lake. Another friend, on seeing a few of my photographs hanging around my house, mentioned that he didn’t realize I was so “artsy”. Another told me she didn’t realize I used to work as a nurse.
Taken separately, I wouldn’t think anything of these incidents. Layered on top of one another, it caused me to wonder how much of the strata of my life goes undetected. It piles up in thick layers beneath my everyday façade, and even the friends who know me best, don’t always see deep down to the foundation. Some of it is simply forgetfulness, but it also reflects on how adept I’ve become at smoothing over these funky seams. The layers don’t line up nice and pretty, like a victoria sponge cake. They’re craggy, jagged earth, with some unaccountable gaps in-between.
I’ve learned to love my time-worn edges and my weird gaps and the crumbly layers that make up the whole of me. They are my story, my physical history written deep down into the landscape. I love when people share their history with me, perhaps it’s time I remember to do the same. I could do with fewer awkward conversations that leave one or both of us wondering, “Are you the kind of person who…?”
Enough about me! I want to get to know you better too. To start why don’t you finish this sentence in the comments: “I’m the kind of person who…”