We Narrate: Therefore We Are

As I said in my last post:

A million other Lizs exist, subjects I have hidden from you, the reader, consciously or unconsciously, for reasons of genre, of appropriateness, of repression—

Of Just. Not. Knowing.

All these voices. And each can be called into question. None is reliable.

And they circle around the adoption story, changing constantly as they consider, reject, reconsider, consider from another perspective. But do they ever break the narrative? Do they stop short? Is there a Liz able to take it any further? And which Liz is that Liz?

I can do this, play with these narratives and narrators, but there’s a part of me that all the play can’t touch. I have set out to write something that illustrates the ways in which the center does not hold, but I can’t, because the center will always hold inside me. I can do this as an academic, but inside me there’s always a little voice saying, “But really, it’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” The stranglehold of the metanarrative wins.

Has this Liz chosen to stand in this one spot in the adoption narrative, and just not move from it? I am looking for a place to stand in Angel Guardian, on E. 2nd St., a center for the adoption story, something to  hold on to. There is nothing there. But “Hymns to the Lares” Liz resolves that too—makes it okay.

And what if I did break the narrative of the adoption story, of my identity as, at once, a Cone and a Chosen Baby? What does that do to who I am?

It unwrites me.

No. It revises me.

But first, yes, it unwrites me. And that’s scary.

The physical fact, as well as the narrative fact, of our family is working to keep the narrative alive. We are. We narrate, therefore we are.

And we narrate everything.

I sit on Jaci’s deck on a summer night and listen to five of my first cousins tell stories, one sliding seamlessly into the next, and I realize that we are a family rich in narrative. We narrate, therefore we are. I wonder how I can be the only writer, because I am certainly not the only storyteller. In fact, I am not an oral storyteller at all.  Joni, Jaci, Dave, Steve and Adrienne narrate. My father narrates. And therefore I am. And therefore I know who I am. And this is how it has always been. My father, and now my cousins.

My Aunty Ann nods toward me in the light of citronella torches and says, “Look at Elizabeth, taking it all in. Watch out–this will all be in print someday.”

One Response to “We Narrate: Therefore We Are”

  1. You have probably thought of this already but I was thinking about your argument as expressed in your diss and blog and maybe adoption is the ideal metaphor for a postmodern personal narrative? We are all trying to find our “real,” ” genuine,” “authentic” parents, memories, family, and selves but we can only adopt and be adopted by narratives, stories, rhetorics, language? You have totally changed my views of the relationship of self, family, and memory!

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