I was so happy to see how many people showed up at last week’s show. I figured with the Moth’s grand slam and the finals of the women’s Olympic figure skating going on that night that we’d have a half-empty coffee house. Luckily, like most of my life, my fears were completely unfounded. You guys braved the snow and melting ice to come out and listen to stories and I was really touched by that.
So many things stand out to me from this show. I wish I could tell each one of you how every story affected me. I remember Bruce beginning his story by telling us that he’d practiced it on the 594 bus coming up from Tacoma that night. Yes, he took the bus all the way from Tacoma and practiced the whole way. That’s how important storytelling is to him. I was happy to give him a ride home that night.
Lynn, one of our regulars, surprised me with my new favorite story of hers. She told us of a love affair that had a 30 years gap in the middle that finally had to end because her lover had a temper. What she said at the end went right into my heart. She said in spite of how it ended she wouldn’t trade those years with him because he loved her more passionately than anyone ever had. There have been so many times that I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t hate a person who hurt me because they also loved me so intensely. Thank you Lynn for letting me know that it’s ok to be glad you’re not with someone anymore and at the same time still miss how much they made you feel loved.
Liz, a first-timer, got the first big sigh of the night when she told the story of how she purposefully started telling people in her life that she loved them and how long it took her stoic parents to learn to say those words back to her. It was one of those stories you could tell resonated with a lot of people in the audience and I wondered how many of those people were quietly making plans to see if they could get their own parents to say those words.
Morgan, our other first-timer that night, told us about quitting his job last week as an investment banker in DC and moving to Seattle to focus on writing and sharing his story of recovery. He talked about how all his life he’d done what he was supposed to do and it had made him miserable. That misery led to all the things he was now recovering from. What surprised him, though, was how much it seemed to help others when he shared his story. So that’s what he’s working on now. Helping others by sharing his story. You’re in the right place, Morgan. I’m glad you’re here.
I know I need to wrap this up and let you get back to your lives but there’s one story I want to tell you about. It’s been sitting inside me since I heard it Thursday night. I spoke to the teller on the phone yesterday about it. The person who told it is my friend Sea. I love Sea for a lot of reasons but one of the biggest reasons is how willing she is to walk toward something painful because she knows it’s something she needs to do. Sea makes me face things I don’t want to just by sharing the times she’s had to do that herself.
Last Thursday she told us about Gene, a good friend of hers who took his own life many years earlier. The end of his life was recorded in a documentary about suicide. The movie was released quite a while ago and she’s spent the years since making sure she never saw it. But things have come up recently in her life that made her realize she needed to watch it. She needed to somehow come to terms with the last moments of Gene’s life. Two hours before she walked onstage at Roy Street she watched the portion of the documentary with her friend in it. She didn’t want to watch him die but something told her she needed to.
So she watched it. For five long minutes, she watched her friend pacing back and forth on screen knowing what was going to happen. Then, moments before Gene took his life, the clip stopped. The last image she has of her friend is him looking out over the bay, his long hair whipping in the wind. He is still alive.
Sea walked toward something incredibly painful because she knew she had to. She felt she couldn’t move forward in her own life until she accepted how Gene’s life ended. I don’t know why the clip stopped when it did. I like to think it was because she had given herself over so completely to what she needed to do to and the universe decided that that was enough. The next time I have to walk through something painful I’m going to remember Sea and this story and I will tell myself that if I have the courage it takes to embrace it then I will have the strength it takes to get through it.
Thanks to Sea for letting me share a little bit of her story. I took out a lot of details because I don’t want people focusing on how Gene’s life ended. I want everyone reading this to think about what it took for Sea to listen to her heart and face the things she needed to face.
Thanks to all the people who shared stories that night: Ginger, Bruce, Robert, Liz, Lynn, Morgan, Sea, Niranjan, Moreah, Carl. Thanks also to everyone in the audience who supported the ones who walked up to the mic. Most of the stories we here at FGS are funny but some are really heavy and you always make the tellers feel safe in those moments.
One last thing. Niranjan told a hilarious story about starting storytelling meetup at an Ivar’s downtown and I would love for a bunch of you to attend his next one. He needs more tellers and we need more places to tell stories so click on the link below and join his meetup if you’re interested. Seriously, if I lived closer I would love to tell stories at an Ivar’s 🙂
That’s all for now. Our next show is March 22, and the theme is Humbled. I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can.
The audio recording turned out fine. Send me an email if you want the audio of your story. I only give out the audio to the people who told stories and it’s only of the story they told. Most of our tellers don’t want their stuff on the internet so I never post stories from the show without the teller’s permission.