A many layered thing

ireland via kimberlyanncoyle.com

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…”

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  • I don’t know how to finish that sentence, but I can identify with the weird gaps. I think it has to do with me moving so often. There’s just not always time and space to fill in all the backstories. I wish there was– maybe I should be more intentional to make room for it. But in a season of conversations peppered with crying babies and training toddlers, talking about where I’m at right now is usually about as good as I can do :).

    • KimberlyCoyle

      I can relate, Jenn! Now that I’m out of the tinies stage, I find I want to fill in the gaps, and I want other people to fill them in too. It does take intentionality, something I don’t naturally do well.

  • Cassi Brightforest

    That is a tough question to answer, so often I focus more on the “This is the kind of person I want to be” when I know I should be focusing on what kind of person am I while I working on being that other person

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Tricky, isn’t it?

  • …will pick you up at the airport at 3 in the morning and think it’s a party.
    …bakes cake just so the house smells welcoming.
    …cries when I see teenagers performing on the marching band field.
    …wears 3 pairs of reading glasses on top of my head while searching for a 4th pair.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      I like you already:) You had me at cake!

  • … loves order and cleanliness but could care less about the
    dust and grime that has accumulated behind the refrigerator.
    …cries about everything, but knows how to hide it.
    …yells at her kids.
    …loves to cook
    …loves yoga but never practices it.
    …would never stab you in the back.

  • Andrea Frazer

    I find that we rush so much through life that we become the person that DOES rather than IS. (Was that even correct English?) My point – I used to spend loooong periods of time, like you, just being. Those moments really shaped who I am now, even though the person I am now is often seen as that harried writer mom who commutes an hour each way to barely get her kids picked up from school. The mom who has time maybe for an hour on a Friday night. The mom who spends Saturdays cleaning and Sundays at church for a blessed few hours only to try not to spend Sunday DOING but in the end, DOING. That all said, this is a season of my life. God has me – I know that. And that’s the best way of being I can think of.