Write about an experience you had that was so strange or incredible, it sounds like it could have been made up.
I am somewhat obsessed with handwriting.
I send a lot of cards; letters. But I am also mad about having handwritten notes of and from others.
Sometimes I wondered if I fell in love with Frederic because his handwriting was identical to my first love’s. I’ve kept almost everything Frederic and I ever exchanged — but all the words are typed out. Oddly enough, I never kept a single scrap of paper he wrote by hand.
And to this day, I keep books with George’s handwriting scrawled in the margins — his outlines; his margin notes. He wrote me a few cards and letters which I have squirreled away somewhere, too. We would see concerts together — Chris Isaak; Lyle Lovett. There were even notations made on the backs of the tickets.
I have so many things covered in my mother’s neat teacher handwriting that I never worry about keeping an archive of her notes. But I have no reason to have things of my father’s — mostly, he makes to-do lists; he doesn’t exactly write cards. So over the last few years I began pilfering his old textbooks from my parents’ house. There, I found his few margin notes are made in his loopy, left-handed scrawl.
And until very recently, I kept all of the wedding and bridal shower cards I had received. I could not part with them. Yes, I loved that they were samples I had of the handwriting of all of the people I loved. But they also made real some of the more peculiar parts of having been married.
When I talk about my marriage, the bits of it I do discuss publicly sound improbable. The stuff I talk about privately, however, often seems impossible. It reads like fiction.
The years I spent with Andrew are like a dream sometimes. But they happened, and I lived them.
I suppose hanging on to the paper — the Engaged Encounter notebooks; the deck of cards from my bridal shower; the wedding invitation and save-the-date card — helped make real an incredibly surreal near-decade of my life.
But life went on, and so have I.
After I snapped this photo, I realised that I didn’t need this stuff for it to be real any more. I’ve been throwing these things away, bit by bit, over the last year or so. But I didn’t make up the marriage narrative. And I couldn’t have fabricated these letters and cards, and printed materials.
I was once a woman who was a wife; who wore left-hand rings; who had a different life. The Improbable Wife once existed — as unbelievable as it now sounds. So it has been hard to part with the evidence.
I’m all about evidence. Which has had me thinking about creatures throughout history whose existences have been doubted, but they have nonetheless been real. For instance, people always ask why, in my bedroom, I have a picture of a narwhal, and a picture of a giant squid.
The answer is: Giant squid exist — and they don’t need papers to prove their existence. Eventually, people find them; find evidence of them; discover the markings of their might and find their remains washed ashore or in the bellies of other animals.
Maybe I’ll wash ashore. Maybe you’ll find me in the belly of another animal some day.
Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll continue to live this strange and charmed life.
Regardless, I’ve discovered that, while I love having writing-on-paper to reify the experience of being human; of being loved; of being familiar — I no longer need the promotional materials of marriage to justify and explain the strangeness of having been a wife.