Not all stories start out with “once upon a time in a land far, far away.” Likewise, not all stories that begin that way are fairy tales. “Far, far away” can be a state of mind, an outlandish attitude, or simply the distance between good friends, whether metaphorical or geographic.
Sometimes it’s merely the gap between our inner and outer selves, the differences between who we are when no one’s looking and the semi false face, complete with manners and dignity, that we put on when out in public. Or maybe it’s just a matter of upbringing that we behave one way for so long until the world teaches us better, yet undeniable traces of our background still shine through regardless of how much, or how well, we’ve grown.
We see falsehood everywhere. I wore makeup yesterday, for example, and spent a little extra time with my hair. I wore the sweater my youngest had given me for Christmas, and I absolutely adored it. The colors were perfect, it was a garment that was finally long enough for my tall frame, I felt good wearing it, and I felt like I looked good, too.
It wasn’t me, and it’s not like me to fuss that much over hair and makeup. It felt fake, like I’d stolen someone else’s morning regimen instead of sticking to my own.
Although it probably won’t stop me from repeating the experience at some point. After all, I will definitely wear that sweater again.
There may be no help for my speech pattern, though. It reflects a combination of travel, education, and age heavily influenced by the surroundings during my formative years. The accent gets worse when I’m tired, and slips completely in reverse when I’m angry.
I may never forget that day I was asked to stay after class by my college Communications teacher about twenty-five years ago. She waited until everyone had left before addressing me. I was making straight As in her class so I knew there wasn’t a problem with my work. She began with an apology for keeping me, explained that curiosity had gotten the better of her, and while she didn’t wish to impose any embarrassment, she just had to know. “How is it that you write so beautifully every assignment I’ve ever given you, but you speak horribly?”
I gave her the answer I’d heard my uncle give when asked that same question. “I learned to speak at home, but I learned to write someplace else.”