Your Life Is Not a Story

The irresistible fallacy of life-as-narrative

Timothy Kreider
Human Parts
Published in
10 min readDec 19, 2019

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Illustration: oxygen/Getty Images

RRecently I visited some old friends who moved, a few years ago, from New York City to Portland, Oregon. In New York, Brian and Lara had been the staying-at-homest people I knew, which made sense since they also had the nicest home of anyone I knew — a large apartment on the 45th floor in midtown, with a view of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. Our usual routine was: I’d go over to their place, we’d order takeout, have some wine, and watch something like Battlestar Galactica. But since moving to Portland, they have unexpectedly, at age 50, become rave kids. To hear them explain it, it was a natural progression: They realized they really enjoyed dancing at weddings, and it occurred to them that they didn’t need to wait for a wedding to dance, so they started checking out some local clubs, and now they go almost every weekend. But when you only see a snapshot of your friends once every few years, gradual changes look like abrupt, bizarre metamorphoses: when they first sent me photos of themselves in luminescent costumes with goggles, antennae, and diaphanous capes, I felt like a Philip K. Dick character getting a glimpse into an alternate timeline.

“I have often noticed,” writes Humbert Humbert in Nabokov’s Lolita, “that we are inclined to endow our friends with the stability of type that…

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Timothy Kreider
Human Parts

Tim Kreider is the author of two essay collections, and a frequent contributor to Medium and The New York Times. He lives in NYC and the Chesapeake Bay area.