What We Want the World to See
So it’s 8 p.m. on the day my article for POV is due, and as I’m putting groceries away, I remember that I told my editor I would turn it in by today. Truth be told, I started the article at work, but then got caught up in my “real job” and left the article on my computer without transferring the file to my email, where I could finish up at home.
So here I am, late at night, with all my words I have in my head used up for the day. Possibly, even though it’s only a Monday, I’ve used up all the words for the week. It feels like that kind of Monday. It’s late. I’m done. Can we all just go to bed?
Youngest daughter just came by, noticing I stopped mid-task in putting away groceries and left potatoes and Pad Thai seasoning still out on the counter. (Don’t stress. Pad Thai sauce doesn’t go with the potatoes. Potatoes are for potato soup. Pad Thai sauce is for Pad Thai. So all is right with the world. Speaking of Pad Thai, I’m trying a new kind from an Asian market in Gretna, that I’m a little obsessed with. So there’s that.)
But she asks me, in all of her 9-year-old curiosity, why I’m not picking up groceries, and I’m sitting at my computer instead. So I tell her that today was my deadline, and there’s less than four hours left in the day, so I’m knocking out this article without any clear direction of what I’m writing about for this month’s Observer.
“Just write about me,” she says. “Write about how smart I am.”
Well then. Problem solved. I smile and nod, but inwardly laugh, because even though she’s smiling when she tells me this, she’s actually pretty serious about wanting me to write about her. She proves it with the next sentence.
“Write about how I’m in TAG.”
That’s Talented and Gifted, for those uninitiated with 9-year-old smart talk lingo. So here I am, doing exactly what she told me to do. Because she’s smart, so maybe I should listen, right?
Or maybe because it’s a little bit of what we all like best about in life. Which is why I want to laugh, but don’t because I know she’s kind of serious. That seeing an article about herself would be the best possible thing she could see in the February POV (other than a free Chick-Fil-A coupon – there’s always hope, right?)
We might not say it like she said it, but I’m pretty sure there’s a little bit of “write about me” in all of us.
I’m guilty of flipping through a friend’s wedding album, quickly scanning the 800 gorgeous pictures of the beautiful bride, really just wondering what I looked like on that person’s oh-so-important wedding night.
Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting that publicly. I’m supposed to act like I’ve never looked at myself first in a family picture, I guess. Or that I would love if someone wrote about my incredible smartness. Because truly, I keep trying to convince all the other six people in this house that I’m the smartest, but no one’s buying it. But maybe if someone wrote an article about my smartness, they would all become immediate believers.
I recently finished a biography of Alexander Hamilton. He was a man so much like all the rest of us, wanting his words to carve history forever. And they did. As did the parts of his life he probably didn’t want remembered.
Maybe I want my pictures to look all right, because the real life me isn’t always picture perfect. Maybe I want my words to matter because I’m sometimes uncertain of whether I’m making the difference I’d hoped to make in this world. Maybe we all want a little bit of ourselves to be memorialized somewhere, somehow.
So when we’re 9 we say “write about how smart I am.” When we’re 39 we say “make sure people know my heart.”
And when we’re 89, we realize our heart won’t last much longer, and only the people we’ve loved who have seen us less than picture perfect and heard our un-memorialized words are the ones who can carry on the pieces of us that we want all the world to see.