Sunday, September 29, 2013

What we talk about when we talk about rain

The first big rain of the year started up yesterday and hasn't let up since; it's supposed to go on until Thursday. 
It spoiled Freyja's soccer game, and forced me inside for a work event, but other than a bit of wet hair, the rain doesn't disturb me one bit. 

Having Freyja cooped up all weekend is disturbing, but she is a high maintenance child, that much is well documented.

I was talking to a poet friend about heritage the other evening. 

We talk often over "chat" which feels perfectly normal for me, but seems funny to some folks. 

It is funny I guess, but it's what I have, so there you go.

He said he doesn't feel that connected to his families heritage, which seems strange to me. 

I grew up being told the same stories over and over, on both sides of my family.  Who did what back during the depression.  What it was like on the farm during the war. What happened when the indentured servants got here from Ireland and ran off.  Who ran around with the James Gang, who rode the train across the country, who was a Quaker, who was German,  who was an orphan, who had red hair, who had blue eyes.  
Great detailed accounts of both my parent's and grandparent's lives.  I knew my great-grandparents well, and my grandfather's grandmother died when I was a teenager.  A benefit to having teen parents, I suppose.

My friend told me a couple of stories he did know about his grandparents. 

I told him about my family and the red braid my aunt is so proud of, that was whacked off of the dead body of one of our great-grandmother's when she died in childbirth.  My mother always gets irritated when my Aunt Ruth tells that story.  Ruth is very fond of genealogy, and also of speculation.

What do your suppose she died of... ? Was she all alone? 

Which always prompts my mother to say something like who cares? Which hurts my aunt's feelings.  She is very invested in this character, her red braid and her unknowable story.  It is the unknowable part that touches my aunt so, and leaves my mother so cold.  My mother is interested in the concrete, my aunt is invested in the what ifs.  It is a fundamental difference in temperament that separates people, not just these two. 

My friend is a poet and writes professionally.  He recently wrote an short essay on our friendship.  On my kindness during his divorce, and the loss of his young child, to distance.  I was stunned by this essay, because I assume most people would be kind, but I learned that they were not very kind, they were somewhat indifferent, or annoyed that he was sad. 

This is another fundamental human difference in people, how we treat sadness, or feelings. 

My willingness to listen to people's stories is often perceived as niceness, when in reality, it is more a desire to be heard when the time comes.  Carving out a path, where someone might reciprocate, I suppose.

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