The Stories We Tell -or- How I Met my Husband

What narrative do you have about your life? I don’t mean the voice in your head that speaks to you about things you’d rather not hear, like “get your butt to the gym,” or “you need to call your mother.”I’m talking about the narrative you share with others, the stories you tell to define yourself to the world. We all have those stories – the ones that never change, that we can trot out whenever needed to answer those introductory questions that we hear over and over again.
Having been married for 23 years, my favorite is “how did you two meet?” Which any couple is asked sooner or later by new friends and acquaintances.

My “how we met” story is fairly ordinary, except the phrase “bar wench” was part of the evening, along with Richie Valens singing “La Bamba.” My husband and I met at a bar (how predictable), where I had gone with my roommates who were friends of his. We weren’t set up, we weren’t intended to be introduced to each other, but we spent the entire evening together. When he left without asking for my number I was pretty disappointed, but

(and this is where he always chimes in)

he had a plan! He would ignore me for a week and then call my roommates to let them know where he’d be the next Saturday!Brilliant move on his part, because of course I went running there (another bar, of course) as soon as I heard…and we’ve been together ever since-

(Except when he took me skiing a few months after we met – I don’t like to ski – for my birthday and then told me when we got home that he wasn’t sure if he was in love with me and wanted to take it back.)

And that little blip is always part of the story, too.


Those stories that we tell – how we met, how he proposed, the birth of each of our children – those stories are what connect us to each other and keep us remembering all (so much!) that we’ve experienced together. But these stories aren’t just about marriages. Each of us has our own stories to tell, also – the firstkiss, the first car we drove, the horrible boss, the fabulous cruise with our girlfriends – placing us in cities, jobs, relationships, like a virtual GPS of our lives. Each of these stories is a stop along the road we’ve traveled, whether by luxury car or city bus. We are our stories – even if they get tweaked and changed over the years, parts missing or names forgotten.


At midlife, we have been in the world as so many variations of ourselves. There are people I knew years ago who think of me only as a teenager. There are all of those people I knew when I was in my twenties, a young, single woman putting in countless hours at her job in order to prove herself. There are many I’ve known who can’t imagine me as anything but Katie and Adam’s mother, or Peter’s wife. Now I’m a writer, blogging and connecting with many people who know me only through what they read on my blog. So many different lives I’ve lived, all in this one life that I have. Another question to be asked – “why did you start blogging?” Another tale in the my personal anthology.

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Those stories we tell – the ones we repeat, over and over, those are the stories that tie all of the different incarnations of our selves together, that make a life out of anecdotes – or maybe it’s the other way around.


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  1. says

    It may be the other way around. I can’t remember the title, but I read a book not too long ago that looked at how our memories are formed in the retelling of events. The retelling is so strong that it creates the memories, even though they are not perfectly true and accurate. It’s why we seem to remember stories of our childhood that we are truly too young to remember, why our versions of stories differ from the stories of other people who were present. The retelling also builds bonds between people. Fascinating stuff.
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  2. says

    Love this post – and you’re so right about the stories we tell. The first work I get my lovely clients to do is to write the story of their life, because it brings up so many beliefs about how they see themselves, what they can and can’t do, and it’s a really good way of opening their eyes to how they may have been holding themselves back in life. I love that you enjoy your story :-)

  3. says

    As a child I listened to all the stories from parents, aunts and grandparents. I would ask them to repeat the stories so that I could carry them with me through-out my life, handing them down to future generations.. Along with those stories of years gone by, my own life was unfolding, each chapter a story that I held close in my heart. Those stories have carried me through the best and worst of times, often keeping me company during the most challenging of times. I’ve always felt that out of all my siblings, I was chosen to be the storyteller for a reason.

  4. says

    I love Sharon your line, ” Virtual GPS of our Lives”! That really teases the question, what if ? What if the we ignored the GPS or the GPS took us down a closed road?
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  5. says

    I love this post, Sharon. Our lives really are composed of stories–the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we share with others, the stories we hear–and this is how we make sense of our world, and draw attention to the pieces that resonate emotionally for us. Thanks for sharing your story!
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  6. says

    This is great because we can all relate. It’s almost as if we have these signposts in life like stopping points along the way that define who we are. Or is it simply the fact that we have told the story a hundred times that it becomes that signpost.

  7. says

    Fun post. I just ran across your article in the Huffington Post about adult children returning home post college (yes, we have one, been here two weeks while he job hunts and I’m already checking out protocol on line). Appreciate your go-easy-on-em stance. Now, run across you again on the GBE Facebook site. I love serendipity. Great Bar Wench story: twenty-something future spouse with the oh-so-cool strategy, which might have been a cover for shyness, and it worked! The ski story is pretty funny — you not liking to ski, but going anyway because it was, well, HIM. Not fooling anyone. (TAKE IT BACK? ha ha). That’s what I love about people’s stories. What we say about ourselves, the tidy narratives, with fears and flaws and inconsistencies sticking out like straw in a hayrick, ain’t that life? Best wishes.

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