To Ms. Lauren Slater,
I am late to the party. I mean way late. To be fair, I was only nine when Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir came out, only started writing four years ago, only started questioning my memory two years ago.
My boyfriend gave me your book for my birthday/Christmas and I read it on the plane ride from St. Petersburg, FL to Columbus, OH. I sat in business class watching a woman pour a tiny bottle of vodka into her orange juice and swallow it all in 8.3 seconds at 10:55 in the morning.
You see, my mother left me when I was four. She moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil with a man. She was beautiful and glamorous. This is the truth.
“I wanted to make my mother happy, that should come as no surprise…She was a woman of grand gestures and high standards and she rarely spoke the truth.”
I want you to know that I don’t care what was true or false, or false or true, or truefalsefalsetruefalsefalse, an irregular heartbeat trying to grasp at memories you’ve reimagined.
“…I did grow up with a mother so wedded to denial, so inclined to twist and even outright lie, that I became confused about reality and also fell in love with tall tales.”
My father sometimes says I was five, my mother says six. But I distinctly remember four. It was 1995. I can’t get a straight answer out of her as to why she left, and so, I began to imagine why and how. This is the truth.
“From my mother I learned that truth is bendable, that what you wish is every bit as real as what you are.”
I don’t know how long it took that woman to drink her screwdriver. It seemed like 8.3 seconds, but it could have been two minutes. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. They all blend together. They’re all the same.
I want to pass my dog-eared copy of Lying around to everyone, to shout out “Here! Here is my story, too. Don’t you understand?” I want them to know that maybe, when mothers leave or are absent, disconnected, daughters fabricate.
So, thank you. Thank you for lying through your teeth and telling the truth in one single breath. For reminding us that memory is malleable, that being honest and truthful are different from telling the truth. For writing lines that make me shudder.
You say, “[l]ive in the place I am, where the view is murky, where the connecting bridges and orienting maps have been surgically stripped away.” And I am. Lauren, I am.