Thanks to everyone who came out to our first show of autumn. I don’t know if it’s the rising humidity or the soft thrumming of rain that brings out the most amazing stories. Whatever spell we were all under last week made for beautiful stories.

I want to offer extra-special thanks to the folks who brought all the first-timers who told that night. Every single first-time teller nailed their story. Thank you so much for the work you put into your writing and practicing. It was one of the strongest nights of new tellers I can remember.

Miriam, who’s been coming for years, finally told a story on the last show she’ll be attending because she’s moving to Miami. It was a sweet story of how a chance meeting in a coffee shop led to her being able to accept quitting grad school. I loved her story for a lot of reasons, but the main reason is that she reinforced my belief in the importance of sharing yourself with more than just friends and family.

Carol, another first-timer, shared another story about the power of strangers when she told us about having to navigate through Italy without speaking Italian. Did the first stranger she met really sell costumes to children? Who knows. It made sense at the time. And how did another man, who didn’t speak a word of English, know that she needed to go to Pisa? Did he walk up to every American in that train station and yell, “Pisa in macchina!” at them? Who knows. It makes me wonder if Italy is just a magical place where people show up right when you need them.

Sue, who is not a first-timer but a second-timer, told a great story about getting schooled by a couple of toddlers she was babysitting. You know you’re having a rough day when you hope the firefighters show up before the parents do. Thank you, Sue, for letting all the parents and babysitters in the audience know we aren’t the only ones who’ve been surprised by how much trouble a toddler can get in when you look away for a second. Story bonus: a number of people mentioned to me after the show how they loved the rhythm and cadence of her story. Everything was said just the way it needed to be said.

Nick, another first-timer, told a beautiful story about his Catholic mother lighting candles for all the people she wanted to protect. I know I wasn’t the only one in the audience that night who’d left their childhood religions. Hearing his story reminded me of all the old traditions of mine that are still inside me. Now that I’m older, I look back on them a little more fondly than I used to. Thank you Nick for reminding us that we can keep some of those old rituals and still be true to who we are today.

Pykasu, I am so glad you survived those years of diving in and out of cars. It was great to hear a story about the gumption of a 13-year-old and the kindness of strangers. We need to hear more of those. Thank you also for taking the time to craft that story. It wasn’t an easy story to figure out how to tell and the work you put into it really showed.

Kathy, whose husband was a first-timer last month, shared a story with one of my favorite lines. “I lift up mine eyes….” Those words have always struck a chord with me. I think it’s because, whether you’re an atheist, an agnostic, or a person of faith, we always seem to look up when we need help. Like Kathy, my mother was a missionary and often looked to the heavens to either ask for help or shake her fist in anger. I like to think the universe has a sense of humor and that’s why a cat burglar showed up out of nowhere to help you break into your car 🙂

Greg, your story went straight to my heart. I don’t often struggle to say something after a story but I struggled with yours. You had no idea when you began that story how much of it I shared with you. Thank you for having the courage to tell it. And thank you Melissa at Story Fruition for knowing Greg needed to tell it at FGS. (Melissa, by the way, did a great job opening the show with her cicada story. )

Chris, how is it that I’ve known you for years but never heard that story? Sometimes it’s nurses that heal us more than doctors. You met a special one that day who went out of her way to acknowledge what you were going through. Kindness is a medicine that continues to heal us long as we remember it.

Connie, I want you to know that I did some research and found out that Iceland does have an extradition treaty with the U.S. but they don’t always honor it. Lucky for you! I don’t know what the penalty for camping fraud is but it seems like they take it pretty seriously. Call me if you’re contacted by Iceland FBI. I know a safehouse you can stay at.

Maryanne told the most touching story I’ve ever heard her tell. The whole room was silent when she finished. Maryanne is that kind of teller. If you ever see her onstage at FGS, look behind you. You’ll see people who didn’t come for the show, putting down their phones and closing their laptops. That’s what you do when you hear Maryanne. You stop what you’re doing and listen because you’ve never heard anyone like her. I hope every single one of you starts going to Maryanne’s own show at the Olive Way Starbucks on the last Thursday of each month. Go see her tell live so I don’t have to try to explain her to you.

Vanda, an old friend of mine, closed the show with a powerful story of why we should hold our beliefs lightly so we can allow space for others to hold their own. What would happen if we all quietly added “maybe” to our convictions? Would the world seem a little safer? Would conversations seem a little less aggressive? I think they would. I’m going to try to use the word maybe more often and see if that helps me feel a little more hopeful for the future.

Before I let you go, I want to thank two final tellers, Kris and Roy. Kris has been helping me with the show for a while now and I don’t thank her enough. I pay her in hugs and eternal gratitude and she keeps showing up. There’s no one I’d rather have sitting next to me every month trying to keep this train running. Last Thursday she told a sweet story about a magical dog named Mariposa she met in Cuba. Mariposa’s magical power is talking larger dogs out of eating Kris. How she does this no one knows. But without Mariposa there would be no Kris and for that we should all send a puppy treat to Havana.

After Kris’s story we had a special treat. Her father Roy got up and told his own story. It was clear from Roy’s performance that storytelling runs in the family. His story of growing up near Cleveland and how a family secret was finally revealed to him was perfect. I could see Kris glowing as her dad got further and further into his story. It was a beautiful moment for me seeing a father and daughter connect over stories. I hope more people bring their parents to the show. Even if you never get on stage, there’s something powerful about sitting together in a little room listening to people share stories. If you’re anything like me son and me, you’ll end of telling each other stories on the car ride home.

Even though I let the show run long that night I still had to bump four tellers: Sepee, Colleen, Sara, and Marjorie. As much as I feel blessed to have so many people wanting to tell stories, it still hurts when I have to tell people we’re out of time.

Our next show is October 17. The theme is “Walking Away.” I’ll get the official invite out as soon as I can. In the meantime, I hope a bunch of you can make it to Maryanne’s show this Thursday in the same place at the same time. Her shows are filled with stories, music, poetry, and who knows what else. It’s one of the few shows that’s been running longer than FGS. Here’s the link for more info:

https://www.maryannemoorman.com/upcoming-live-events

See you next month!

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com