“You’re not going to write about this, are you?”
If you’ve blogged for any period of time, you’ve probably heard this question. It doesn’t matter if your blog is read only by a few people, or if you change names to protect the innocent — knowing that you write about things can sometimes give your family and friends the willies. So they ask, “You’re not going to write about this, are you?” Then you lie.
“Of course not!”
You don’t mean to lie. It’s just that the line separating what is your story and what is theirs is not easily discerned and is open to interpretation. You take your chances when you speak with a blogger. If we are both doing something, should I be able to only write about what I did, or should I feel comfortable enough to write about the entire experience – of which you played a part?
It’s been twenty years and there hasn’t been a cross word between us during all of that time. At first, you had a hard time letting me know what was on your mind, but somehow we made it through that period. I worry about you – always have. Not because of anything that you have done or failed to do, but because I can’t guarantee your happiness, like I want to.
For the most powerful man in your young life to be so utterly powerless takes some getting used to.
You’ve shown great poise during difficult situations. I can’t take all of the credit for your composure, but vanity dictates that I take some. You are smart, attractive, kind, and loving and I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it. I love you and I’m proud of the woman you have become.
We were best friends since high school. You went on to college and I did too. We went to the same one. You studied hard and graduated. I hung out in the student’s lounge. By the mid-point of the first semester, I was asked to leave. It took me many years to correct that mistake, but we remained friends despite the divergence of our journeys. You were even responsible for making the introduction that landed me my first office job. The head honcho was your uncle, but you could have recommended someone else. You chose me.
We both married. I was blessed with children, you weren’t. Many years later, it seemed that I only made the trip to New Jersey to say goodbye to someone we both knew. You helped me move into my new home in 1998, but you haven’t been back since. In all, you’ve been a good friend. Many of my memories have you in them. Almost all of those memories are fond. A long time ago, you lent me money when I was in a jam. I haven’t paid you back.
During your saddest times — when your father, your mother, and then your wife died, I was always by your side. When my brother died, you weren’t by mine.
The expectations of a long friendship can be hard to live up to.
So you see… it’s impossible for me to write about me, without writing about you. The ways in which we influence each other’s lives precludes the divvying up of moments to suit an arbitrary standard of anonymity. It’s no worse than when you promise never to tell a soul, and then you turn around and do.
“I’ll just tell one person.”
People talk. Promises are broken. Sometimes it slips out unintentionally – at least that’s the way it’s often explained afterwards. Sometimes there’s blow-back once the secrets are repeated; other times we chill, because we knew that it was likely to happen the moment that we confided in another.
We are interconnected. Our stories play off of one another. It is at the intersection of my life and yours that all of the action takes place. To exclude what happens there would be a mistake.
I’ll try not to betray a trust in the process, but there are no guarantees.
I’m not naming any names because the names are not required for me to tell my stories, but without the people behind those undisclosed names there would be far less meaningful stories to tell.