Most times, I really do tell the truth. But friends generally think I’m gearing up to tell a story.
I think the problem lies in the fact that I am a writer of fiction, hence friends who read my posts on Facebook might question whether something I put up on there was, shall we say — slightly over the top?
The inherent beauty of writing fiction is that one can be a dreamer, interweaving real life impressions and experiences with the vapors of the mind. Those vapors drift into the atmosphere, and I catch them when I sit down at the computer, fingers on the keyboard releasing my thoughts. From that confined inter-cranial darkness, subconscious remembrances decades old are retrieved; those feed my imagination, building new worlds, creating stories. Scientific studies posit that the storage capacity of the human brain would be about 25 cubic feet, the size of a luxury refrigerator, or 2,500 USB drives. Depending on how stuffed your fridge is, that could be a lot of thoughts chilling in there.
But, what I post on Facebook is real life, not a story-in-the-making. Or is it?
Something I posted recently that raised questions about true-to-life experiences was this:
Life Lesson #523: Although it’s enticing to venture out on balcony of half-completed house remodel to check on progress, if the temporary door handle only works from the inside, it’s probably not the best idea.
COROLLARY: It’s a long drop from the roof.
That was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Since then, everywhere I’ve gone, people have asked me about how I became stranded on the balcony; they seem to want direct confirmation of the story.
Or possibly, a story is better in the telling.
Because, yes, I did venture out onto one of the balconies of our remodel-in-progress, and when I did, the new french door (unaccountably) swung shut behind me with a near silent click. Not quite silent enough, because I heard that click from where I stood at the railing on the second floor of our home, where I stood enjoying the pale light of early morning. The sun silvered the yard below, and on the new (and frozen) sod I had so looked forward to for months, ice crystals glittered. I wasn’t worrying about what the ice might do to the new grass. Sometimes you simply want to enjoy that moment of cold stillness before life erupts around you again. Sometimes, you want to appreciate the transitory nature of an experience before it slips past into the void of time and memories lost, from where it later must be dredged.
Except I had heard that click. My immediate thought was a panicky, “Oh crap,” which is the same thought you would have had if you were up there in air 15 degrees cold.
That’s when that pesky, archetypal Superhero (we all have one inside of us) awoke, insisting that it couldn’t be all that difficult to hang onto the rain gutters and drop down onto the ground. After about twenty minutes or so evaluating my options of (a) waiting around until a construction worker showed up to unlock the door and let me back inside; or (b) find the lowest spot on the roof and jump down, I did the most stupid thing possible. I skittered across the crystalloid roof shingles to the front balcony, and seeing no one there, I jumped. Really, it was more of a drop. Leveraging myself onto the freezing roof gutters, wondering if the patio furniture below would support my weight — that was worrisome. But, if you were only wearing pink pajamas (embellished with cowgirls), and a fluffy, white robe, wouldn’t it be the smartest thing to do? Especially if you hadn’t bothered to stuff your cellphone in the pocket of that fluffy, white robe?
When you’re freezing in 15 degrees, your brain isn’t functioning all that clearly. All I knew was, I wanted to get down off that roof.
The problem is, when we’re stuck in a position such as this (pink pjs and all), we don’t think very much. They do it all the time in the movies! There are popular catalogues dedicated to selling doodads supporting our superhero aspirations. Why couldn’t I jump off the roof, too?
Stories are built around real life situations, and then, for the heroic in us all, storytelling ramps up the excitement factor, imbuing we little humans with the courage to run farther and longer than we ever thought we could, slide down icy hills on metal sleds, and sometimes, save lives. Stories are life waiting to be told.
As it turned out, I was fortunate. I paid for my adventure with a few bruises and aching muscles, whether from the cold, or from the exertion, it’s hard to say. Nothing too terrible happened.
But, as in true Superhero form, I did learn a lesson. Always take the temporary door handle with you if you decide to venture out on to the balcony of an unfinished house.
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @. Life inspired. Vodka tempered.