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What would it be like to chronicle one’s life in the third person? I’ve read countless blogs, and overwhelmingly they speak from the ‘I’, with a few presuming toward a semi-objective commentary.

Siona wanted to write about last night’s trip to the emergency room, and what it was like to sit by a loved one—first scared and struggling, and then later, asleep—watching through exhausted eyes the punctuated arrival of strangers. And more than that, she wanted to write about each unhappy visitor, to tell the story of the man who’d been found quietly dying on the side of the road, the teenager in a torn sequinned dress who’d been turned into a child by tears and fear, the twenty-something anxiously holding his angrily-angled left arm. She wanted to chronicle their briefly entangled stories, weaving the night into a tale of interconnection and meaning, capturing these sudden inadvertent worshippers of life.

She wanted to, but felt uncomfortable even confessing this. She felt uncomfortable because she knew as well as anyone the intimacy of tragedy. She felt uncomfortable because she knew her attempts to connect these strangers would be dishonest. For all the closeness of space and circumstance, those she shared the hall with spent their nights alone, each trapped in their own invisible world of surprise and confusion and pain. Still, they were beautiful, she thought. Still, she had to write something.

So she tried, though it all felt more like a dream, and though it didn’t really feel like hers.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. The third person emphasizes distance between each person and the people around them.

    Pulling in another direction, it seems to suggest how that distance can be bridged, for a moment, anyway. We know you were there, though in your third-person cover, and we know something about these strangers, though you chose not to write about them.

    A pretty gem.

    I hope they’re all right.

    July 12, 2009
  2. I’m going to blame this on the third-person voice: I didn’t ask you if you were all right. Are you?

    July 12, 2009
  3. Thank you–for the smile and the gentle concern. Yes, I’m fine; just tired.

    July 12, 2009
  4. (o)

    July 12, 2009
  5. my first person is down with your third person.

    oh, and has Julia told you lately that she loves me?

    July 24, 2009
  6. Maybe Siona will write it all down eventually. I hope so, remembering a similar night I spent in an emergency room (as the one on the stretcher) trying to remember all the details I was hearing so I could write them down, to somehow honor all those pods of human fear and beauty – but never did.

    August 9, 2009

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