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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
FEB
10

Modern Love

Love is such a mess. Seriously. In some ways I've struggled over the years with this realization, and in other ways I've felt relief over it. See, I used to think that love should be easy. That if it weren't, then the couple shouldn't be together. I mean, you shouldn't have to work at something as blissful as love, right? Certainly not work hard. I've had my fair share (like, one) of relationships that are what I would consider blissful, in that we seemed to always be on the same page, never fight, and not find ourselves frequently rehashing similar disagreements. I think there are definitely couples out there who function at this level, a level that is (seemingly) more effortless than the rest of us. I'm happy for these people. I'm just not one of them.

Many of my relationships have involved more challenging situations, keeping in mind that when I say challenging, I'm referring only to differences, both in personality and backgrounds. I'm a person who has never been looking for the easiest option when it comes to relationships, so these differences are not automatically what I would consider to be dealbreakers. But they take work, and I don't think there's any shame in admitting that. I wish more people would talk about it. That relationships are hard. And why shouldn't they be? Spending a shit-ton of time with the same person, one who comes at things from a completely different lens, values and prioritizes differently than you, and can't read your mind? How is that not going to take work? When a friend recently posted about her milestone wedding anniversary by saying that in addition to there being no one she has more fun with, more connection to, or more love for, there is also no one who makes her more frustrated, no one she disagrees with more, and no one else she gets so mad at, I felt like it was one of the most beautiful tributes I'd ever read. That, my friends, is love.

I think what I've found refreshing is the mutual desire to persevere through these differences, to even embrace and celebrate them. Besides, at least for me (a person who FEELS things deeply and in fact rather enjoys the sometimes dramatic travails of life if for no other reason than they trigger growth and force one to acknowledge her own aliveness), I value our ability to experience emotional extremes as so incredibly human. What other species can feel and process to such extremes and in such detail, or evaluate and then make decisions from these feelings in the same complex ways that we do? It's rather quite glorious. 

I've recently read all the Modern Love books (collections of the Modern Love essays from the New York Times), and, along with the collections of Moth stories, they were just about my favorite things I've ever read. They, the stories, are almost all unbelievably messy, exploring aspects of love from the non-traditional to the tragic to the sweet to the devastating to the, yes, I'll say it, hard. Is it always worth it? Does it always work out? But does it even have to? I'm a fan regardless, of the journeys, the struggles, the work, the rewards, the reminders that we are never so fortunate than when we have love.

OCT
13

Storytelling: NYC Edition

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They are the most human part of us. Stories. They are why I write, they are what I like to write, they are the only part of an otherwise boring lecture or presentation or sunday school lesson that will make an impact on me in any way. I'm sure if you think about the lectures, presentations, and sunday school lessons that have made up your own life, you'll agree that stories trump all.

There is a storytelling organization here in NYC that I am just becoming acquainted with. I attended one of their events a few days ago (at a beautifully charming venue, the stairwell of which is pictured here), one featuring stories from World War II. Most of the storytellers were in their late 90s and lived through it, the war, and between stories of escaping Belgium and traveling on foot through France (it took a year), setting off explosives and being shot in action, flying planes to help train new soldiers, racial discrimination even after arriving home from serving our nation, these men and women were positively captivating. Not because they were expert storytellers, but because life often needs little fanfare or finesse in order to shine through.

Harry Truman's grandson told the final story of the evening. Not a veteran himself, but he's often asked to speak on his family's behalf whenever the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings approaches. He told of a tender experience meeting a Japanese woman whose grandfather was killed in the bombings. This led to more involvement, more introductions, and Mr. Truman Daniel ultimately ended up attending a memorial ceremony in Japan a couple of years ago. What struck me about his story was the lack of hate or animosity between countries. Rather, there was love. Kindness. Comfort. Strength. And how fitting that what the families of the Japanese victims want most of all is that their stories be told. So that we never forget. So that we never do this to each other again.

I was entertained, uplifted, and most of all, I was moved. You could get that way from a theatrical production, maybe a play or a movie. You could get that way from a well-done novel, too. The difference is that this stuff really happened. It has a sense of meaning beyond anything people could dream up. It's real life, in a story.