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note to self: i’ll be there for you, always

written june 6, 2021. Photo by Kristine Cinate on Unsplash I have always looked for myself in other people. I think the idea was that they would somehow hold the pieces of me that I felt were missing. That maybe, if I wrapped my identity up in theirs enough, we would somehow make a whole person. It's not healthy to live like this, but I did it anyway — burning through relationships and searching for something I couldn't quite name. It was never enough, not to be myself, but it was never enough to latch my identity to other people, either. I got close, several times — I thought I had reached the pinnacle of self discovery. I thought I had completed myself. But in the end, relying on other people to help build yourself is never a viable way to do things. It's only recently that I've started to become comfortable with the idea of being enough, as I am, on my own. Several years ago, in this same position, I would have searched for another person to attach my identity onto,

Beautiful People: Fiona + Her Parents

Today I'm linking up with the Parental Edition of Beautiful People! I'm using one of my most beloved characters, Fiona Bartulli, protagonist of Because I'm Irish and its subsequent sequel(s). You'll also be getting to know her parents, Will and Chloe. So, without further ado, let's get started!
L-R: Will, Fiona, Chloe

1. Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?
A bit strained, particularly with her mom. Chloe put a lot of huge expectations on Fiona, and her little shoulders couldn't carry them all. And because of that, Fiona got really mad at Chloe, blew up at her multiple times, and they haven't been the same since.

Fiona's relationship with her dad (who is for convenience purposes always named Will even though I know I could probably find something better) is a lot better, however. He's her mainstay, and she adores him. Her favorite memories involve driving down rural mountain-y roads while classic rock blared and the wind whipped her hair (her dad drove a red convertible and always had the top down).

2. Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence, and how has it affected their life?
Fiona does know her biological parents.

3. How did their parents meet?
School, for lack of a better origin story. I've always really wanted to write Chloe and Will's story too, but it's never come to me. But they met in college--the University of Maine--where they bonded over majors that didn't quite fit and being forced to go to school. Here's what probably happened: Will sat behind Chloe, and he asked if he could borrow her pencil. He then laid on some thick, cheesy, awful pickup line. She rejected his advances for a bit but eventually she fell for him too, and the rest is history. Fiona's reluctant history that she's often annoyed by, of course. (And omg, I think I just came up with parts of Chloe/Will's story, you guys. That's huge.)

Will & Chloe--(source)

4. How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
That greatly depends on if you mean her mom or her dad.

For her mom: Fiona would be extremely ticked off. You'd probably be losing a body part. My condolences to you.

But if you told her she's turning out like her dad, she'd secretly glow and never let on how much it meant to her (but if you knew her really well, you'd be able to tell).

5. What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?
Fiona is 19 at the start of Because I'm Irish, so Will and Chloe were probably in their sophomore year in college. They were probably a year into dating, and they probably were about to give birth to Fiona, honestly. She came along pretty quick.

6. Is there something they adamantly disagree on?
For Fiona and her mom: oh, yes. Everything. A more apt question would be what don't they disagree on?
For Fiona and her dad: Not much. Just that ketchup should absolutely not go on hot dogs. (Fiona is not a fan.)

7. What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
Again, unfortunately a more apt question is what they did not. Fiona came with a temper and a strong will and strong beliefs and no fear of voicing them. She gets angry and holds grudges, so obviously that wasn't easy. The toddler and teenage years were not easy. However, when Fiona was the ages of 6-9, she was an absolute sweetheart. So she has that going for her. (Honestly, I love her dearly. So do her parents. They really do. We really do.)

A young Fiona.--(source)

8. What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
The day they first went to New York City when Fiona was 11. It was to make up for a field trip that Fiona missed because she was sick. They spent the day as tourists--visiting the Statue of Liberty, seeing the Empire State Building, walking around the city. They finished off by eating pizza at a hole in the wall pizza place and being serenaded by a violinist. That marked two things: the moment Fiona fell in love with New York City, and the moment she fell in love with the violin. Those two things really rooted themselves in her heart and became her dreams. Not only that, but it was just a good memory with her family that she holds onto. She still has the tiny American flag her dad bought her on her dresser.

9. What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
As a baby, the best. They probably had no idea what was coming (bwaha-ha-ha, oh my gosh). Then, when Fiona turned two, of course, her will and defiance arrived and she threw tantrums like no other. That scene in Inside Out when Riley throws broccoli at her dad's face is all I can picture.

10. Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?
Chloe picked it out because of her Irish heritage and her love for the Cliffs of Moher, which her dad took her to visit when she was sixteen. Fiona's middle name, Rose, is a family name carried down for four generations and Chloe's middle name as well.

And that's it! This post made me miss Fiona and her parents deeply. I think it's time to revisit their stories sometime soon if I can get up the courage to do so (and remember how to write). But I know someday they'll come back to me--the Bartullis always do. These characters in particular are like family, and writing them always feels like coming home.

Did you do Beautiful People?


  1. I love the family you've created here, it sounds really interesting and realistic! And is that Eva from Skam as Fiona??

    1. Thank you so much, I'm so glad to hear that! And yes it is!!! I haven't seen Skam yet, but I found Eva in a photoset on Tumblr and it was like Fiona had jumped right out of my imagination.


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