I watched him closely as we approached the ocean. It had been nearly a year since we had last played in the sand. A year to a toddler is a lifetime. I enjoyed the luxury of seeing him rediscover the magic and power of the waves hitting the sand as he listened to the roar of the tide.
There is a voice inside my head. It is not a conscience, not a little Giminy Cricket, but a narrator.
I have a narrator with me all of the time, for as long as I can remember.
Dawn plays in the backyard after school. She watches as the sun hits the swing and sings softly as she walks towards the flowers. She wonders if the fairy dust is still sitting in the highest flower next to the window.
At the risk of sounding slightly schizophrenic, I'm going to tell you about it.
When I was younger the voice was my own, perhaps a way of pretending that life is a stage? Maybe it was my way of making myself the star of my own show? I don't know people, I don't know.
My narrator is often describing scenes in my life or scenes I am observing.
When I spent months listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks my narrator was Jim Dale.
She drives in the car thinking wistfully about skipping all her responsibilities, picking up a slice of chocolate motherlode cake, a cup of coffee and spending the day catching up on her reading, surrounded by the smell of parchment and the soft chirping of the birds outside.
See, you could pick up on the HP influence with the thought of parchment. I'm not even sure what parchment smells like or whether I've ever seen a book full of parchment.
To be honest, I never thought much about it this whole narrator thing. For all I know all of you have your own narrator. I'm going to ask B this tonight. I'll report back to you.
B, do you have your own narrator? You know, someone that narrates what you are doing? Well, not like all the time but when you are thinking and it's really quiet or when you are looking back on an event?
He gives me an ever so slightly puzzled look, like the question might be code for something that makes sense. After just a second he realizes that I'm serious.
His response was simple: "No, do you?"
When I told him I did, he nodded and went back to what he was doing. I don't think it's possible for me to surprise B.
Maybe I should clarify, it's not like this voice is talking constantly. It just fills up some of the quiet time. So if you are actually talking to me in person I don't want you to be standing there wondering if I can hear you over the sound of Jim Dale narrating our scene.
I realized that I had this narrator a few years ago when I was mentally composing a blog post about an event that was currently happening. At that point it seemed more like I was just mentally writing, but thinking back I can always remember doing it. It's very possible that the more I think about this the crazier I begin to sound.
It happened as I walked out of my very last oncology appointment, as if I was on the outside looking in and describing the scene.
I walked down the hall and opened the door to the waiting room. I saw anxiety, exhaustion, resignation, patience and sickness in the eyes looking back at me.
I exhaled when I got in the elevator.
Sometimes it's in first person and I'm thinking the scene as if I'm writing it down for you, which I often do. Other times it's in the third as if the narrator is on the outside describing the scene.
I guess it's a lot like writing. Many times it's a way for me to mentally write the things that I'm not physically writing. I always mean to sit down and write but I haven't become disciplined enough to apply myself. Although I can remember doing this as a child so perhaps none of this makes sense.
Right now my narrator is Barbara Kingsolver in the Appalachian accent she uses to narrate her book Flight Behavior.
Dawn sits and contemplates whether or not to reread or edit her blog post. She decides not to because she knows that it will never make much sense no matter how she edits it. She also knows that her 15 minute break in the bedtime routine is almost over. Dawn wonders why bedtime has to be such a challenge and despairs that it will always be this way. Little snippets of sanity in a nightly routine of struggle.
Perhaps it's an odd thing, to have a narrator. It's like The Truman Show or Stranger Than Fiction.
It could be that a great many people have narrators and just never noticed them. Or I could be slightly insane which would also explain a lot.