Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Untold Story

For every story we tell, there are dozens we don’t tell, right? And I mean this in a broad sense, not just as it relates to fiction. Whenever we communicate personal experiences or thoughts or beliefs with others, we make certain choices, consciously or not. I expect that would make an interesting post or discussion, based on everyone’s experiences with telling stories of one kind or another, but I’ve been thinking of one story in particularly, the one I wrote about in my last post, about a really adorable little kitten named Clarence.

In the days since then, I started to realize I hadn’t told the whole story. It wasn’t a conscious choice as much as I had just forgotten there was a completely different side to my little “angel” cat when he first came to my house. I mentioned his biting, but had forgotten that his biting, in the beginning, was so bad I used to put him in his cat carrier for the night so I could sleep. He also used to play-attack my other cats. Well, he may have thought he was being playful, but it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say he terrorized the household. In fact, he was such a kamikaze kitty as he tore through the house, I even tested out the name “Evel Knievel” on him and called him “Evel” for short. (Can you picture me calling “Come here, Evil Kitty, come here”?) But for obvious reasons I decided he needed another name. It felt too weird calling him that, plus I was afraid of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and somehow encouraging him to live up to his name. I considered “Angel” early on (not because he was one, but again, that principle of self-creating prophecy), but it just didn’t fit him. When my brother suggested Clarence, I like the name because the kitten really did look like the TV lion but I thought the subtle angel connection (to “It’s a Wonderful Life”) might serve as that self-fulfilling prophecy for him without being so obviously wrong (like calling him Angel). But looking back now, maybe it actually worked.

When I wrote my last blog I’d forgotten all of this and now I find myself wondering what exactly it means. Maybe it’s a little about those tricky first impressions when we think we don’t like someone and before long, we’re best friends. Or remember back in high school thinking a new girl or guy was “stuck up” and really they were just shy? Or maybe it’s like having a baby or writing a book or going through hard times, when the passage of time serves to help us forget the really painful parts (or at least some) and we can enjoy the best parts.

Which is one of the things I like about getting older (as I look ahead to the big 5-0 in a few weeks). I hate forgetting things and feeling like an idiot, but I love that I’ve forgotten so much of the angst of those younger years. And I like that so many things that seemed so important, now seem hardly worth remembering; I haven’t completely forgotten them, just forgotten most of the emotions that made certain experiences so painful.

So there’s another lesson from my little kitten. His death isn’t what I remember, or even those bumpy first months as he grew more obnoxious as he gained strength and his rough fur softened and became silky. What I remember is how gorgeous he became, how loving he was when he laid his head against my neck, and that loving look in his eyes before he attacked my nose.


Cheri J. Crane said...

My oldest son and I were actually talking about this very thing last night. I think sometimes it's a good thing to let go of the less than stellar memories, and focus on the positive things that have happened.

Good thoughts, Val. =)

Lynn Gardner said...

I always enjoy your thought processes, Val. Yes, it's nice to forget the angst of those early years and just enjoy the moment now. There will probably be more angst, but if we focus on the good things, instead of the bad, all will be well in our world! Thanks for the reminder - Lynn