Thanks to everyone who came out to the show last Thursday. We had a great collection of tellers including some first-timers I hope to see again soon.

Maryanne started us off with a story of all the ghosts her mother made her pray to each night before she went to sleep. They weren’t ghosts in the traditional sense with rattling chains and a Christmas turkey. They were the spirits of relatives her mother still missed. I was frozen to my chair within the first 30 seconds of this story. It reminded me of listening to my own mother call on the dead for support in moments of need. I’d never shared that with anyone. It was too weird for me to even make fun of when I was a kid. It was just something I kept to myself and hoped my mom wouldn’t do in front of my friends. That night, as Maryanne began her story, I was right back in our apartment on 29th street in Anchorage, AK listening to my mother invoking the dead. Maryanne and I have a lot to talk about in the next few weeks.

Next up was Ed, who was up from California. He told a story about going to Vietnam in the 60s but ending up in South Korea guarding the Demilitarized Zone. I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible that we were all saved from an early start to the Korean War because Ed and his buddies were too high, drunk, and full of mischief to care about crossing the DMZ. Thousands of lives may have been saved because Ed and his friends were too busy playing kazoos and stealing their commander’s underwear to worry North Korea very much.

Then Bruce told us about a mysterious newsletter that showed up at his house in Long Island, NY in the 90s. He tried to throw it away but somehow it called him to take it out of the trash and give it another look. We know from other stories Bruce has told, that this newsletter eventually brought him across the country to Yelm, Washington, where he lived behind a long stone wall, learning the secrets of the universe. I have a feeling that one of these days Bruce will do a one-man show where he shares with us everything he learned in the years he spent behind that wall.

One of our first-timers, Maribeth, hopped up to the stage on one crutch and told us about a horrific snowmobile accident she had two days before Christmas in 2016. You want to know the one thing you never want to hear after crashing your snowmobile? It’s the phrase, “Can you wiggle your toes?” Cute thing to say to a two-year-old but not a grown woman laying on her back pinned under a 700lb Skidoo. Maribeth went from posting pictures on Instagram about her life in Manhattan to wondering if she’d ever walk again. Thank you, Maribeth, for showing us how far you’ve come in the last 18 months and how far strength and gratitude can take us in life.

Elliot was next and told a story about throwing his back out from coughing. I was so glad to learn that I’m not the only one who has done that! The worst part was that it affected his workload. Elliot’s a phone sex operator and I guess no one wants to talk to a depressed phone sex operator who occasionally yelps in pain completely out of context. Well, maybe some people do but not enough to pay the rent. Fortunately, Elliot is healthy again and back to making people happy. If you’ve ever heard Elliot on the phone you’ll know that the world is a better place with Elliot back in the saddle.

Carl, one of our regulars, told a quick story about the time he demanded a Parisian bullet train turn around so he could get to where he needed to go. It’s great that Carl feels his powers of persuasion are so great that he thinks he could talk a French train conductor into hanging a U-turn and taking him to Spain. I’m not sure if Carl believes he can manifest that kind of reality or if he’s just really good at manifesting a few bottles of wine and seeing how things turn out.

Tracey, one of our regulars I’ve had the pleasure of sharing stages with around town, told us about finding something strange and unsettling in her husband’s sock drawer and how she spent years trying to accept something about her husband she never suspected. It was a relief when she finally realized that love doesn’t always conquer all. Sometimes giving up is the best way to move forward.

The teller who most touched my heart that night was 11-year-old April. April came to the show last month and sat right down front with her big sister. I could tell she loved the show but I didn’t expect her to come back a few weeks later and tell her own story. She told the story of how her parents’ marriage changed when she was 5 and how she’s learned to deal with it. After the show, one of my friends in the audience wrote, “How does an 11-year-old have more composure and acceptance than the rest of us?” I don’t know, man, but it was amazing to watch this little girl walk up to the microphone and tell the biggest story of her life. No way could I have done that at her age. I wasn’t able to do it at twice her age. Lauree, thank you for bringing April to the show. Storytelling has helped me through so many difficult times in my life. I’m glad we could be here for April to learn how to do that herself.

Thanks again to everyone in the audience for being so kind and patient with all our tellers. It’s not easy getting up there and a lot of people are doing this for the first time. Knowing that you’re wishing them the best up there makes a big difference.

Also, thanks for the amazing reaction to my own story that I told that night. It was a new story that I wrote for my friend David and two people from high school I haven’t seen since 1984. If you read my last group email you know who I’m talking about. I couldn’t have asked for a better night or more receptive audience to share that story with. I’ll get the audio up sometime this week. It’s one of the few stories I feel ok putting online so I’ll let you know when that happens.

Our next show is August, 23 and the theme is “Goodbyes.” I’ll get the official invite out as soon as possible.

The recorder did its job so if any of the tellers want a recording of their story just send me an email. I only provide audio to the people who told a story and it’s only of the story they told. Most of the stories we hear at FGS are very personal and the tellers don’t want them posted online. That’s why you see so few of them on our blog and Facebook page.

See you on the 23rd!

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

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