I've been thinking about what we all experience the same way and what's different for everyone. I've been thinking about it because the two biggest, most demanding, most brian-occupying things in my life right now fall into the latter category: books and parenthood.
I had been a mother for about an hour and a half -- on a 12-hour flight home from Korea which is itself another story -- before I realized children are all different and therefore all assumptions I had which began with phrasing such as, "When I'm a mother I will never..." or "Good parents always..." or "My children will never do that due to my superior parenting skills and general attitude as a human" were in fact a load of shit. Parenting seems like it's going to be a universal experience. It seems like one of those things that brings people together and unites us all. It seems like there are standards of good practice which will apply across the board. It isn't true. It isn't even almost true. In some ways, this is very freeing. I am now nearly judgement-free where parenting is concerned. Think Gatorade is a better choice than milk for your infant? Maybe. Prefer to dress you kid in a plastic trash bag than in clothes? Sure saves time. I say no to kids and guns and to Halloween costumes which equate children with sex. Otherwise, all bets are off.
And books. You know why they say there's just no accounting for some people's taste? Because there's not. Lots of books are bad. Lots of books that are bad -- that I know are bad -- garner great reviews, sell millions of copies, and/or are beloved by otherwise seemingly reasonable people, thereby encouraging more bad books. And conversely, lots of books are good, and it seems like nobody knows it but me. In contrast to parenting, I am right about books, and everyone else is wrong. The books I like are good, and the books I don't are bad. I have seriously great taste in literature. This is true. Pissing into the wind. But true.
In contrast, everyone experiences weather the same way. NYC darkens, floods, and we all feel either a) wet or b) helpless/empathetic/terrified/hopeful/appalled/alarmed/intrigued/ashamed which is something of a complicated emotion to be shared by everyone all at once. This is true of less dramatic weather too. As a writer, I find weather to be useful shorthand for all sorts of things. As a human, I find myself flirting daily for nine months a year with moving somewhere where it isn't raining. There is a reason why weather is the stuff of small talk. It's the thing we all share, not just the experience but the experience of the experience. I can't think of another thing about which this is so true.
About The Author
Laurie Frankel writes novels (reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and would like someday to write novels) in Seattle, Washington where she lives on a nearly vertical hill from which she can watch three different bridges while she's staring out her windows between words. She's originally from Maryland and makes good soup.