Monday, March 6, 2017

The Witness

The musical Fun Home is not my story. But fragments of it are so familiar, so recognizable and so achingly painful that I sat in the theatre alone, spellbound and speechless. People next to me, in front of me, sighing, subtly, audibly reacting to the utterly precise lines and lyrics - I felt conspicuous in my otherness, perhaps even a bit resentful that my story is hidden between the lines as is so often the case with bystanders. I am glad I went by myself because it gave me a chance to sit with my own memories, questions, grief, anger, revelation without needing to talk to anyone.  Fun Home helped me see how our lives are revealed to us over time by piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of experiences that fit in to place only with time and truth.  It also reminded me that it is impossible for children to know who their parents are and even when they think they do,  they don't.  No one can know without understanding the context of the times and the circumstances that motivated their choices, behaviors, and mistakes.

Weaving my way through the complexity of my family's story has left me story-less. It is as if my story is the story of piecing together their story like a reporter or a witness. Watching Fun Home made me ask myself, "What is my story?"

I am tired of being the narrator. I want to be the protagonist. But I've been overshadowed by the drama of stories much weightier than my own.  I've spent years unpacking my family's mythology.  I've seen first hand the ravages of repression and the tragedy of denial, silence, secrets, lies, loyalty and love. There is very little I've not thought about, journaled about, analyzed, and processed. Since I was twenty-two, I've been sifting through the rubble, looking for meaning and seeking understanding. My story is not my mother's. It is not my father's. It is not my brother's. My story is not about sexual identity. It is not about AIDS. It is not about running away at fifty. My story so far has been a reaction to those stories.  As the author, Deena Metzger says, "We must come to know our own story." For years,  I've been telling everyone else's. Fun Home made me see that I must find my own story, and tell it unflinchingly.

"I want to know what's true 
Dig deep into who 
And what and why and when 
Until now gives way to then."
(From Fun Home)

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