Thanks to everyone who came out and supported our amazing tellers Thursday night. We had two first-timers as well as a few folks telling who we haven’t seen in a while. 

Gretchen started us off by telling about a time during junior high when the only person who really made her feel seen was Marge, the waitress in her favorite cafe. I can’t count the number of times a waitress has made me feel special when I was feeling anything but. This is the kind of story that reminds us that often we can be the only bright spot in a stranger’s day.

Erica, a first-timer, told a beautiful story about living with bipolar. She did a masterful job pulling us into one of her episodes where none of us knew what was real and what was delusion. It’s been 17 years since that episode and Erica is doing great now. I’m glad she went back in time to tell us this story. Every person living with mental illness is drawing on a tremendous well of strength to get through each day and most of them don’t get credit for it. Thank you, Erica, for sharing that story and showing us what it takes to move from that moment 17 years ago to the life you have now.

Behnaz was next with a story about what happens when you do everything you can to make sure someone doesn’t leave you. This was one of the hardest stories for me to hear because I’ve done this so often in my own life. Every scene in her story felt like it was ripped from my diary. I felt like I was listening to two stories at once, hers and my own. Of course, the ending to both was the same. And like Behnaz, we both survived because of friends.  

Deborah was next with a story about the heartbreak of trying to be a meaningful part of your grandchildren’s lives when you live in Seattle and they live in Israel. It was especially hard for her knowing the other set of grandparents lived nearby and got to see the kids all the time. It took reading to the boys every night during Covid and becoming each character in each story in order to finally connect over continents and time zones. She discovered that by being completely focused in the time she spent on Zoom with them she was able to fully share the parts of herself that the boys really needed. It turns out that when the phone is the only way you have to connect, you can’t just phone it in. 

Henry, the host and producer of the North Seattle Storytelling Meetup, shared a story about how sometimes it’s good to not get what you want. He was offered the job he’d always wanted at the bank he was working at but turned it down to go run his own business. It’s funny how working for a bank is often the last job you have before going off to live your dream. Is there something so soul-crushing about working for a bank that it drives some of us into starting our own seat-of-the-pants self-employment scheme? Maybe. Working in the mortgage loan division of the National Bank of Alaska drove me onstage where bombing in front of two hundred people in a comedy club seemed like a better life.

Tyler, our second first-timer of the night, told a beautiful story about how hard it is to accept help. In the end, he showed us that accepting help is really a gift we give to others. By allowing them to help we honor the connection we have with them. It’s also an act of humility that reminds us that none of us can get through this life on our own.

Chris was next with a story about how not getting what she wanted as a child led her to a life of wanting less and being happy with what she has as an adult. Although Chris is now Enemy #1 of the advertising industry, she’s #1 in my book for living in the present and enjoying what life gives her. I love influencers who don’t realize they’re influencers 🙂

The last two tellers of the night were a first for us. It was Mary and SueAnn, a mother-daughter team who told the story of a doll named Cathy that each of them had as young girls. I can’t even begin to explain how they did it. It was an incredible two-part story that was funny, tense, surprising, and at times absolutely terrifying. If Stephen King got together with Mr. Rogers they would write a story just like this. It was sweet and scary and touching and funny and the best story to end 2021 on. And it was a special treat to see a mom and daughter tell a story together. I hope we can do more of that in the future. Thank you, Mary and SueAnn for showing us how it’s done.

Thanks again to everyone who turned out that night to either tell a story or support the folks who did. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out the year than with all of you that night. Special thanks to the FGS’ers who recommended our two new wonderful tellers, Erica and Tyler. I hope they return and tell more stories with us.

Our next show is January 20. The theme is “Stories of things turning out better than expected.” I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can.

Take care,

Paul

freshgroundstories@gmail.com