I’m kind of obsessed with myth. (I suppose I could also call it “persona,” but I think it’s more than that.)
Not the big myths (though I read the hell out of those when I was a kid and really enjoyed my Old Norse class in grad school specifically because we were translating myths and I could decide how I wanted to phrase certain things), but everyday myths. The myth of you, or me, or that dude over there. And the thing that really fascinates me is all the parts of that myth that we’ll never know.
Katharine Hepburn’s relationship with Spencer Tracy is part of her myth … but we’ll never really know what went on with them, day-to-day. And it’s true for everyone, not just celebrities–my husband and I always say that nobody can ever understand someone else’s marriage/relationship in the day-to-day interior of it.
Parents are the same way–but I didn’t really realize it until I had a kid: there are things about me he’ll just never know. Facts, sure. Stories, sure. He’ll know where my scars came from; he’ll know I went to Europe and spent a semester abroad. God help me, he already knows about my Glee obsession and my (not nearly so explicit, but still) Fish Called Wanda-esque love of Scottish accents … but there are things he’ll never really know. Nor should he–he’s my kid, there are boundaries, and everyone needs a secret to discover after someone dies.
A side story: When my paternal grandmother, from whom I get my first name, passed away–we found out her name hadn’t actually been “Laura.” Apparently, she started life as “Lauretta.” A few years later, my husband’s paternal grandmother passed away, and we found out she was actually a year older than her husband; no one outside her sisters and her husband knew this. My maternal grandmother passed away recently, and so far we haven’t had any such shocking revelations about her, but I have to admit I was wondering what we’d find out when we sorted through her things.
I don’t think I’m the only person who watches celebrities, or the President and his wife, or my friends, and wonders, “How does that work when no one’s around?” There’s a tension there, though, because I also love mysteries, especially the sort that are hinted at but rarely solved.
(If you’ve read my stuff, you are likely not surprised by this …)