Thanks to everyone who came out last Thursday and enjoyed a great night of storytelling. It was just what I needed last week. I hope you heard something you needed to hear too.
Rebecca started the evening with the story of her leaving home after graduation with nothing but a backpack and a sleeping bag. There’s a beautiful scene in the story where her mother watches her daughter walk down the road toward highway 20, knowing she was headed to Oregon, as far west as she could go. We could all imagine what she was thinking knowing that she had planted the seeds of Rebecca’s adventures by whispering, “There’s a lot of world outside of Jesup, Iowa,” over and over as she was growing up. Thank you, Rebecca, for that hypnotic story of a young girl leaving home.
Affifi was next with another story of leaving home, but this time home was Lebanon and her journey took her first to England, then to NYC, and finally to Seattle. We’ve all had to look for work but very few of us have had to find work with the threat of deportation hanging over our head. We should all add that to our gratitude list. Thank you, Affifi, for that story of dreams and determination.
Dave shared with us the story of picking up their daughter Katya 20 years ago from an orphanage just outside Vladivostok. Everyone was pulled in as he described the relief he and his wife felt as they finally made it through the Russian adoption process and then the surprising love they felt from the people who had been taking care of little Katya. At the end, we learned a word all of us should know in every language, spasibo, which means thank you.
Beverly followed with the story about how her home is her garden. It always makes me laugh when a story sparks a big conversation right afterward. Seconds after Beverly finished her story, we suddenly learned who the gardeners were in our group. Everyone chimed in on a quick discussion of clock gardens, deer, and moonflowers. Thank you Beverly for bringing us all into the place you call home.
Mary, a first-timer, told a story that was over 50 years in the making. It was about leaving one home early in life and having to find and leave many homes over the years. Mary reminded me of how many homes some of us have had throughout our lives and how some of those homes are safer than others. Thanks for bringing me back to all the places I used to think were home but turned out to be something else.
Behnaz is one of two people I talked to last month who inspired the theme for this month. Both of them were immigrants who shared stories of what it was like to come to another country and start a new life. I used to do a joke in my act where I said, “I’m not originally from America, I grew up in Alaska.” To me, it was very true. When people leave Alaska, they call it “going outside.” It took me a long time to get used to freeways, waves of people coming at me on the sidewalk, and cities that seemed to go on forever. I can’t imagine what it must be like to come from another country where you have to deal with even vaster differences in language and culture. When I was a kid, my mom told me stories of growing up in The Bronx in the 30s and 40s and all the different accents and languages she heard. There was nothing like that in Alaska. But thanks to all the amazing people I’ve met in FGS from all over the world I’m finally starting to understand a little better where my mom came from.
Behnaz, I’m not even going to try to describe your story. I’ll just say that I’m going to remember the line, “Welcome home” for a long time. Thank you.
Katy, another first-timer, told our second story of the night that included hitchhiking. There’s something about hitting the road when everything has gone sideways that makes so much sense at the time. It makes me wonder if this is an American thing or if it happens in other countries. Does hitchhiking have the same cultural appeal overseas as it does here? Stories like Katy’s make me wonder if I missed out on something by not hitchhiking at least a few times in my life.
Bridget told next and it was another story that made me lean back in my chair clapping and laughing. Sometimes we get stories from moments where we were caught with our pants down but rarely do we get stories from getting caught with our actual pants down. Bridget is one of those tellers whose life seems to generate stories just from getting out of bed and going about her day. If you ever see that Bridget is on a show somewhere make sure you go to that show. You won’t regret it.
Connie called us from Idaho to tell a story full of love and loss. It was animal love and loss but it hurts the same. I know Connie isn’t the only one of us who relied on our pets to help us get through last year. Unfortunately, Connie lost two important animal friends in the last few months, her dog and her horse. There’s a scene in her story where she’s digging a grave in the frozen earth by boiling water, pouring it on the ground, and digging until she can’t anymore. Then she repeats the process until the grave is dug. It took days. I can’t think of a more powerful act of love than the image of Connie doing that for her friend of so many years.
Chris S was our second to last teller and it was great to see her back onstage. She told us about how the pandemic has quieted her life in a way that’s allowed her to hear and process all the different voices from the past that have shaped how she sees and acts in the world. Now that we’re starting to leave our homes and embrace the world again, she wonders if she’ll still be able to make out the one voice that she discovered was her own. I can’t begin to do justice to how Chris told this story. It was a beautiful performance where the rhythm of her voice matched the words in a way that made us all lean a little closer to our screens.
Our last teller was Paul B. He told a story that got right inside me. There were so many things that pulled me in. A mother who was never pleased. A grandfather who cared more about his career than his family. Paul’s own sense of wanting to make his parents proud but at the same time wanting to stay true to himself. It was all there. Just as remarkable was that he never let the story get away from him. It could have veered off in so many directions but he kept it under control and never let it pull him off the path. It was a great story by a great teller. Thank you, my friend.
I hope a bunch of you will join us on May 20, for our next show, “Better Than I Thought I Was – Stories of being wrong about yourself.” I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can.