Whose Story is It, Anyway?

When I wrote about leaving Italy (but not my husband), a long-time reader expressed concern about my marriage, saying that it was clear that my primary relationship is with my daughter Rossella, whereas my husband Enrico is “merely a footnote.”

I appreciate this reader’s concern, but was quick to correct (I hope) his misconception. It’s true that I have written more about Ross, and in more detail, than I do about Enrico. But that doesn’t necessarily reflect the importance of each in my life.

It’s a generational thing. Ross, having grown up with the Internet, shares her life online in a way that is completely normal for her generation, but which leaves her father shaking his head in bemusement: “When I was young, I would never have dreamed of making public some of the things she does, even if I’d had the technology.”

So it’s simply out of respect for his privacy that I don’t write much about Enrico.

This brings up a larger question that has been on my mind for some time: we all have stories to tell, and much of what I share online is, one way or another, stories. But the most interesting stories involve other people, who don’t necessarily want those stories told about them. And I can’t be sure about others’ sensitivity level. While I have rarely or never told a story with deliberate intent to cast anyone I know in an unflattering light, on a few occasions people have been unhappy about what I wrote about them. And there are lots of stories I haven’t yet told out of respect for others’ privacy. Still, I wonder: whose story is it, anyway? What legal or moral right do I have to tell my own tales when they happen to involve other people?

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