"If you really want to know me...."
What follows is the finest piece of writing I’ve ever read.
It’s in Christina Baker Kline’s Prologue to the novel A Piece of the World, a fictional memoir about the woman in the famed Andrew Wyeth painting Christina’s World.
In the book, it is said by Christina Olson herself.
“If you really want to know me, I said, we’ll have to start with the witches. And then the drowned boys. The shells from distant lands, a whole room full of them. The Swedish sailor marooned in ice. I’ll need to tell you about the false smiles of the Harvard man and the hand-wringing of those brilliant Boston doctors, the dory in the haymow and the wheelchair in the sea.”
I find this so compelling and provocative. It leaves me dying to know more, to dig deeper into Christina and learn why these seemingly disparate things and events are what she would say define her.
It left me wanting to write my own paragraph…which has become this blog post.
To “really know you,” what would one need to start with?
To know me, here’s what I think –
“Well, first you need to know about two dads, two families. Duality. Doubly blessed or lost in the middle? There is the permeating smell of Parliaments in a blue, white and gold box and a butane lighter. Winstons, pepsi with salt. There was a tiny island in Casco Bay named Pumpkin Knob, boulders in a shallow lake in Rangeley, Away at a Camp in Maine. There was blond-haired, Malibu Ken, whose hair, skin, lips, eyebrows were so different from mine, so perfect. I married him because he chose a slice of orange over a piece of cake. There were 2 sons. Three journeymen who embody the depth of profound love and connection that give meaning and definition to my life. There was a male-dominated career. For all the long-time girlfriends and kindest mom, it seems the men and boys were more impactful. The girls were the ballast that kept this ship upright, staying on course, weathering the storms, ever moving forward. Favorite times were quiet and alone and walking in nature. Exploring historic hotels. With Ken. And writing. Where would I be.....who would I be......without writing?”