Dutch and Bobolito and I traveled to spend the holiday with my mother, four brothers, their wives, and the various nieces and nephews. Telling and hearing family stories is always one of the best parts of that experience, especially since we five brothers tend to be on the loud-mouthed side, and since not a few of the nieces and nephews have inherited those tendencies.
One of my nieces, who is now an 18-year-old college freshman, mentioned that she still feel sometimes as though she’s still 11.
“That doesn’t change,” I said.
“You still feel like you’re 11?”
“No, more like 14.”
Of course, I’m *not* 14 anymore, or even 44. And seeing my brothers’ growing and grown children reminded me of that. It’s easy to feel like that often unhappy adolescent boy, and respond emotionally from that perspective. Then, the day after Thanksgiving, I also got a chance to see that the life of that boy may be more than I remembered. We visited with two of my best friends from high school, a brother and sister whose house was like a second home to me in those days. Of course, Dutch couldn’t resist asking them what I was like then (30 years ago!), and I was surprised both by how much I had forgotten and by how differently they saw me from the way I saw myself. They were, in so many ways, far more generous in their view of me than I was in my memories of myself.
Over the years of writing, I’ve learned that the decision about point of view can be crucial to how well a piece of writing works. So much of how the story goes depends on who’s telling it. But that doesn’t just apply to creating fiction. This Thanksgiving holiday, I had the chance to see myself through the eyes of others, and I came to understand again how the picture of myself and of the world that I have in my head isn’t the only way of seeing.