Pay Attention to That Telling Detail
We're in Idaho with Brock's family this week, and I have had tons of reading time. I just finished My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout and I absolutely loved it. As I was reading I kept thinking that it was my kind of book. There were childhood analyses from an adult's point of view, exploration of mother-daughter relationships, little violence or swearing, and plenty of valuable insights. Strout really knows how to capture a person's inner life.
One insight that I kept thinking about was when Lucy was talking about a man she was in love with in college:
"He asked what we ate when I was growing up. I did not say, 'Mostly molasses on bread.' I did say, 'We had baked beans a lot.' And he said, 'What did you do after that, all hang around and fart?' Then I understood I would never marry him. It's funny how one thing can make you realize something like that. One can be ready to give up the children one always wanted, one can be ready to withstand remarks about one's past, or one's clothes, but then--a tiny remark and the soul deflates and says: Oh.
I have been friends with many men and women and they say the same thing: Always that telling detail."This sentiments has been true in my own life with all type of relationships--one little thing that makes me realize the all-important about that person.
Happily, the reverse of Lucy's statement has also been true. I have often experienced moments where one remark or action has made me think, "Yes. I'm going to get along with this person very well."
I remember when it happened with Brock. We met at the beginning of the semester in a political science class and began walking out of class together. On one of these walks not long after we met, he started telling me about the Boston terrier his family had when he was growing up. My family has a Boston, so I was very interested in this coincidence (I love coincidences). I couldn't stop laughing at the way he was telling the stories and experienced a form of happiness that was new to me. Something inside me clicked and I knew he was special. And that feeling, that tiny detail, has always stuck with me.