Today’s prompt: We are all lightning rods, conduits for that which the Universe wants born into this world. What energies did you channel this year? Prompt courtesy of Noël Rozny.
Stories. For me, it always comes back to the stories.
Listen To Your Mother was about the stories. The profiles I write for people hinge on whether or not they trust me with their stories. The articles I write are more interesting if I can really hone in on just one really interesting element of a story.
Lately, I’ve seen the phrase ‘what’s your story?’ everywhere. Kinda like buying an orange and pink striped car solely for the novelty factor, then noticing three different orange and pink striped cars the next day as you drive to the grocery store. The phrase is now ubiquitous because we’re starting to realize just how vital stories are; they connect, enlighten, inspire, convince, soothe and bond us together through words and shared experiences.
This sharing of stories is a big deal for me, but what’s even more important is how we think of the word ‘stories.’ We don’t have to live a scandalous or fabulous life to share our story; in fact, I think the world needs more ordinary people who share their stories. Not a laundry list of what we did on a particular day, but snippets of life. Insights that make a difference to someone else.
Last week, when we were at my dad’s place for Thanksgiving, Erin got stung by a wasp at bedtime. It was a freak occurrence kind of thing, but she was terrified and upset and asked to sleep with me instead of in her room. It’s been forever since she’s wanted to sleep with me; she’s 11 and nearly as tall as me. But that night she curled up next to me and, once the crying slowed just a little, she whispered ‘tell me a story, mommy.’
It was late, and I was tired, and somewhat annoyed because all I really wanted to do was finish the book I’d been reading and go to sleep. I said “oh, honey, I’m too tired to make up a funny story right now.”
That’s when my sweet girl said “you don’t have to make one up. Just tell me something about you. Like, what kind of stuff do you like to do when we’re at daddy’s house?”
So I started listing things I enjoy. When I said ‘I like to cook and bake and read and watch movies and listen to music and visit with friends’ she giggled and said ‘it’s like we’re twins!’. When I said ‘I like to drink red wine’ she interjected and said ‘nope, guess we’re not twins. Gross.’
I told her about my godfather Pete, and how his family had lived in this very house before grandma and papa moved in. I told her that papa met Pete when he started working for him on the farm, and how Pete became more like a dad to him than a boss. I told her that papa asked Pete to be my godfather, and how that made his brother mad at the time, because he wanted to be asked. I told her about Pete’s dog Heidi, and how I loved to sit on the old porch and pet her while papa and Pete worked, and how they butchered pigs and made sausage in the garage that once stood where the garden is now planted. She giggled when I told her how my sister Laura would chase me around the farm with the pigs’ eyeballs, and how they still had long pieces of tissue stuck to them that flapped back and forth as she ran, and how I’ll never forget how she laughed at me because I was so grossed out.
I told her about Pete’s El Camino, and how my sisters and I would pile in the back and Pete and dad would sit in the front, and how we’d drive through town without seatbelts or windows or a roof. I told her how we screamed at people then ducked, and how we giggled because we thought no one could see us.
I told her about how, after grandma and papa got married, we’d have to call Pete every Sunday afternoon and invite him to dinner, or he wouldn’t come, and how he always brought Schwann’s cherry vanilla ice cream along with him for dessert. I told her that I hated the ice cream–it had nuts and frozen bits of maraschino cherries, neither of which I liked—but that we each ate a bowl of it every Sunday because Pete went out of his way to bring it, and we wanted him to know how much we loved having him there for dinner.
I thought she’d finally fallen asleep, so I stopped for a minute and kissed the top of her head. That’s when she tightened her arm around me and, as she squeezed, whispered ‘thank you mommy. I love your stories.’