Monday, June 27, 2011

Family, Cruises and Stories

Laura Andersen here. Posting remotely since I am currently in the middle of the ocean, locked on a ship with my husband's family. Since I board this ship in a couple hours, my anxiety--sorry, I mean anticipation--precludes a generous introductory post. Rather, you get the rambling post that I hope I can figure out how to time-delay so it shows up on Monday.

Though frankly, the above paragraph is as good an introduction as any. It tells you that I'm married, that I travel, and that I am (somewhat) prone to exaggeration. I won't actually be in the middle of the ocean after all, more like hugging the Alaska coast. And locked up is rather melodramatic, since theoretically I could steal a life jacket and jump ship whenever I wish. Not that I don't love my husband's family. I do--extravagantly and gratefully. It's just that I am an oldest child with one brother who married a youngest child with six siblings. Yes, six. That's a lot. I remember being stunned to silence the first time said siblings and spouses and nieces and nephews gathered in one place. But they're such fun people--especially the nieces and nephews. Many of them are married and providing beautiful babies for the next generation and there's nothing I like more than babies to hold and buy presents for. (As long as said babies don't have to come home with me. Been there, done that. Four times.)

Speaking of which, my oldest son just turned eighteen. Eighteen!!!! Seriously, it's not possible. It was yesterday that I brought home a little blue-eyed, blonde-haired boy and now he's over six feet tall and heading to college. There is definitely some sort of paranormal influence going on in my life, because I. Am. Simply. Not. That. Old.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Stories. That was supposed to be the point of this post. Last Saturday I attended an author event featuring Heidi Durrow. She's the author of the debut novel The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, about a bi-racial girl growing up in a world of labels. It was a wonderful event, due to Durrow herself who is warm and funny and generous and, oh yes, drop dead gorgeous. This story is in some ways her own, being the daughter of a Danish mother and an African-American father. (When introduced, she was described as an 'Afro-Viking.')

What primarily struck me about her was her continual reference to stories. We are not labels, she said, but stories. We are not simply Afro-Vikings or soccer moms or disabled veterans. We are all the strands that go into those labels AND all the strands that weave a different web. We are contradictory. We are complex. We are human beings. And we are stories.

That is why I write--at least one reason. Because in the stories I write and read, I widen my experience to the complicated, breathtaking, fantastic variety of experience found in every single human being.

Especially in myself.


  1. "We are not labels,she said, but stories."

    What a simple, wonderful truth. Hope you are enjoying your cruise.

  2. I love this, Laura! I've thought about it for the past two weeks. So true. And so entertaining!