This Is Part of Our Narrative

Book Discussion

At times during her memoir, The Rules of Inheritance, Claire Bidwell Smith tells herself, and us, that a moment is part of her narrative. When it's something that she wants to remember, when it's something that she wants to feel, she marks it for remembrance. While I don't think it's anything that I've consciously thought of in that exact way, I knew exactly what she meant when she said it.

There are moments in our life that can shape us. They can change us from being the person we were to the person we will become. There are other moments that may not dramatically change us, but they become a part of us. For Claire it was the deaths of her parents, a trip to Europe with her father, the birth of her daughter -- they became cornerstones of her narrative.

pen moleskin

Credit: Kev Vol Vanille

When I think of the moments that make up my narrative, I think of the moment I realized I had really left home. I was on a train headed for college and suddenly realized I really didn't have much of a safety net. There is the time I sat on my friend's balcony and realized that I had decided not only to move back to that city, but had found an apartment and signed a lease in less than 30 minutes. Those were big, dramatic moments, but there are quieter ones. There is the night I spent in my grandmother's nursing home, watching her struggle to breathe and wondering if she would make it through the night.

My narrative is also the stories that I share with people. Quite often they are funny stories, poking fun at my lack of grace and ability to have odd things happen to me -- the time I gave myself a concussion, got frostbite on my ear while wearing a hat with earflaps, and how I managed to get stung on the butt by a bee while sitting down. None of these things remarkably changes me, though I do now make sure my hat is tightly secured, but they are part of what makes me who I am.

What moments are in your personal narrative?

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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