Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford


In recent weeks, I’ve begun compiling a list of words that, in my view, should no longer be usable–in speech or any form.

For part of our time in Maine, last week, we were not the family you wanted to sit next to on a bus. We were grouchy and didn’t care who noticed. We were perpetually damp. We were hungry, but tired of eating in restaurants where drinks seemed to spill of their own accord and food took its sweet time coming to the table. As did the waitstaff. I don’t blame them. We were not at our best.

When I think of Maine I think of sparkling white and blue sky and sea, craggy outcroppings, yellow slickers, and cool wind. And sometimes those things are true, but like with all preconceptions, they are not true all of the time or even most of the time. For two and a half days we suffered rain and boredom. Views of the ocean were obscured by fog. Views of each other were obscured by annoyance. Views of an early homegoing were rosy.

But we stuck it out! We bought raincoats. I have never owned a raincoat before, and now I have a lovely orange one. And then the weather cleared. The sun came out, the children dived into the pool, and my oldest boy and I went for a 7 a.m. hike that ended in a glorious view of crisp, clear shoreline. We settled back into our usual, tolerable selves and ate at the picnic table in our homebase. We dried sleeping bags and hammocks on the clothesline. We smiled and thought, this isn’t so bad.

And it would be easy to forget that for two days we were awful. I could slip cleanly into the assumption that we rose immediately above the circumstances with grace and vigor. But I’d be lying to myself. We failed a certain test. We failed to keep our humor in the face of adversity, even if adversity was just a couple rainy days.

This isn’t a tragedy. This doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, that we’re a bad family, that we’d be better off never leaving home. We’re just humanish. And look how good we can be when it’s sunny. Let’s forgive ourselves.

Also, the day we arrived home, a puppy came to live with us and really, that makes a lot things ten times better. Her name is Rosie.

4 thoughts on “Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford

  1. Wonderful. Instructive. I felt like my family was sinking into a similar pit of despair and sniping in the past few days. Today we were at our collective best most of the day. (Of course, today we spent very little time with each other because the kids started school.)

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