>A small lie

>Yesterday I tried to ascertain what would be interesting about my life, what might cross over to be that ubiquitous moment and I was overwhelmed with watching. I saw myself lie to a stranger about the bounty in my life because I felt embarrassed.

I was standing outside a public garden in Greenwich Village. There was a rather tattered man also peering in; he was sketching in a small book. I was standing astride my green, 1968 Raleigh bike waiting to meet another writer to discuss a project. I was early, as I often am, because riding a bike in Manhattan makes you punctual because all you have to do is peddle a little faster and there you are, but that is another story and not the lie I told.

I asked the man what he was sketching. Not a good sign when you can’t tell from looking really, but I am preternaturally chatty. He replied, “Oh I love that shed, I have drawn it so many times.”

I looked, it was a pre-fab grey shed for tools tucked in the back of roses and weeping cherries. Maybe he loved the verdant vegetation, but when I took a concerned look; in fact he had just roughed out the shed alone in green crayon.

“What are you doing?” he continued the conversation toss.

“Oh, I am just garden fantasizing.”

He took the ball and tossed back. “Oh I don’t do that enough, maybe if I did, fantasized about having a garden then I WOULD have one.”

“I think they call it visualization–seeing things you want to make manifest, but I like fantasizing, too.”

Now the lie.

He asked, “Do you have a garden?”

I guess because I felt guilty about the small five-acre farm purchased in the Hudson Valley, on credit, nearly two years ago. I said, “ Oh yes, I have a small garden, but not this opulent.” The garden in question was .3 acres, I had just read that on a sign and was basking in how much more land I had when the conversation began.

Why did I feel the need to downgrade my incredible luck and good fortune? As I walked away from him, he was still sketching and I chose to focus on the positive phrase I had uttered, “Yes, I do have a garden.” It was a magical sentence, and yet I made myself feel bad because I felt I had to lie to this stranger, in order to not make myself look so spoiled.

Why did I do this? And as a correlative, why do we inflate silly things to make ourselves feel, look or seem better in encounters with strangers on a train, or bus or bank line? For me, it causes me to wonder if who I am will ever be enough, or correct – just as I am – at the moment at the garden gate or bank line?

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