Never let the truth get in the way of a good story

I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging this past week. It’s been hard for me, this releasing my thoughts so freely into the world, wondering how you all, both here and back home, will react or perceive what I’m saying or experiencing. When I was in Peace Corps “for real” in Suriname I didn’t do a blog I just sent a mass email. When I came home I was sometimes surprised and disappointed about how people had interpreted or remembered my stories.

But the truth is it was completely my fault because I more often wrote about the otherness, the hard parts, the misunderstandings, rarely about the beauty or friendships or pleasure I found in Suriname. And obviously I found a lot of that or I wouldn’t have stayed for 2½ years. Those stories are in my memory but I’m not so sure they were in my emails.

I think my Surinamese or even Peace Corps friends would have been hurt or offended by some of the emails. But it was easy to write them because they weren’t reading them. If they had been I might have considered my words or my stories a lot more carefully. Many of them I couldn’t have told (especially if there had been Peace Corps staff reading).

You might have been bored. You might have come to visit.

For me, when I travel I like both the beautiful and the ugly. I like the challenge of not understanding what’s going to happen in two days or even ten minutes, of being a little lost, a little uncomfortable, a little scared. But for some I know that’s not true and my emails might have scared you away from a country like Suriname—the exact opposite of what I would have wanted.

And so this blogging thing, having my stories out in the open is difficult. It makes me think and rethink what I want to write about. Especially with Surinamese, Georgian and Russian friends all reading the blog. Especially when I’ve only been here a month and I don’t really know anything about Georgia yet. When I often get it wrong, whether it’s a misspelling or a complete misreading of a situation or relationship.

Add to that my interpretation of everything changes on an hourly basis. The smoke that bothered me my first week for instance. Did it really offend me or did it just make an interesting title and so I wrote about it. Would I have thought about it all that much if the person I was working with hadn’t been so obsessed with it? If I’d told the truth instead about my real challenge my first month, which had more to do with him than my host family. But he might read it and so I didn’t write about that.

It wasn’t even honest. Anymore than I was probably fully honest in my emails home from Suriname. Because I did take up smoking in Suriname. Not constantly, but fairly regularly— usually while hanging on my porch at night with a glass of rum. I even hung out with the cigarette promoters because they threw fun parties and really a job is a job when you have very few choices and I didn’t blame them. And lonely is extra lonely when you don’t have a TV or internet to fill the long hours.

Are the language barriers with my host family real and difficult? Sure, sometimes. But my instinct is to write about that as opposed to the kindness they’ve shown in taking me in, in refusing to accept any payment from Peace Corps, in arranging everything to suit my desires, my schedule, my strange eating habits, my odd need for solitude.

And so I sometimes feel bad about what I’ve written or worry that they will read it and be hurt or insulted. Misunderstand. Because I know I certainly would if I took someone into my home only to find out they were telling the world about my intimate relationships, my strange cat or drinking and eating habits. I would be hurt, angry.

And so I worry about this blogging thing and I adjust my blog and reinterpret what I’ve written in the past, what I will write about in the future, and apologize to friends for writing about them before telling them about it, or to my host family for putting a picture from their house up for the public to see when they don’t even know it’s there. Yet. And maybe I take out certain parts. Or maybe I don’t. And would I care at all if I knew for sure they’d never see it?

9 Comments on “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story

  1. I know exactly what you mean… and your practice of self-inquiry, of ruthless self-honesty, is actually an ancient spiritual path. The point being that as all the untruths fall away, what remains is what is true, real, and authentic.
    I love your writing, Edith.
    All my love,
    Aunt Mary

  2. Edith,
    I love your honesty, and always have. I think that is what drew us together in our long friendship. I enjoyed your e-mails from Suriname, and always imagined visiting you and going into the jungle. The thing with blogging is, I have come to realize, that for many it is a way to share their lives with their loved ones, and, if others begin to read and follow, it’s great. There is always someone who will be negative, but for the rest of us, your writing makes us feel as if we’re sharing parts of your life. If you feel lonely and you share your thoughts, you’re not alone anymore.
    Love you with all my heart!

  3. Edith, one of your best blogs yet. Im reading this and Im thinking it reminds me of my favorite book of all time “Out of Africa” where she was alone and understanding this new environment. You write just like her. . .somewhere between stream-of-consciousness and total reality. Reading this particular blog of yours is like reading poetry. Your other blogs are just wonderful too. If you had a scale of 1 to 10 with the “10”ers being the most hard core lovers of your blog- you can count me as a 10+.
    You cant please everyone- and its hard not to be overly sensitive and that is understandable. Heck, I have so many friends on facebook sometimes it paralyzes me thinking I cant say anything without pissing at least one person off. Sometimes I have a glass of wine and say who cares and write whatever I want anyways. I guess there needs to be a certain boldness with some things in life!
    Edith, Im a fan. Count me in forever.

  4. Many bloggers don’t get this introspective — and should. It’s a strange new world, the blogosphere, and you are good to address its blessings and its hazards in such an honest way, Edith. I am loving your postings! Dawn

  5. Edith,
    What is refreshing about your insight is it’s honesty, the positive focus and the consideration for others ..something not always first and foremost today…
    Enjoy your time there! : )

  6. Hey chica! I love your blogs! Your stories are fun and entertaining. This one in particular is insightful and revealing. Being constantly aware of your actions and words is for the most part hard, but i believe it is a great path! Good job Girl!
    Keep it up!
    and Merry Xmas!!!

  7. Edith,
    We won’t be offended as long as you come to the next peace corps reunion next summer. Norcal. We love you and can’t wait to see you. – Joshua
    P.S. Love reading your thoughts on this Edith. Still figuring out my own blogging-space as it relates to my own family and the outside world. 🙂

    • Can’t wait to see you too. It’s my intention to be there! Going to make some ravioli from scratch this New Year’s Eve and will be thinking about you and Jeanine and that gnocchi we made once upon another life. Love to both of you and the girls and Happy New Year!

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