We tell stories to see, to learn, to claim, to feel. To reach the heart. To touch someone. We tell stories because when we share that moment – a child waving a tearful goodbye, a mother who cannot be found, a choice which cannot be undone – and someone “gets” it, even an imaginary someone, we feel slightly less alone.
We tell stories when super funny things happen and a belly laugh cannot be contained in one belly only.
On May 5th, I will tell a story surrounded by these powerful writers – by their tales of love and hope and loss and journeys made and changed, these women who now have me thinking about, writing about “story.” There is a postcard for the show on my fridge:
My daughter’s third grade friend saw it in our kitchen this past weekend. She wrinkled an eyebrow, chewing her goldfish crackers. “Listen to your mother?!” she asked, staring at me like I had some kind of hidden agenda, then turning her attention curiously to Miss E, my daughter, who remained silent.
“What do you think of that?” I asked.
“You should listen to your Daddy, too,” she said with a furrowed brow and a firm head nod. I agreed, wondering to myself: What must she think of our two-mom family? Does she know we believe in Daddys, too?
I wasn’t much older than these girls are now when my mom’s mental health went downhill – and yet – my story on May 5th isn’t about that. It’s more upbeat, which is new for me. Something new for me to claim. My story on May 5th is one of two moms, two girls, two moments in time, a sliver of my life really, this story I will tell.
We tell stories to gather people in. We build powerful movements with story. Personal. Social. Political. Movements. We tell stories to change the course of people’s lives.
We live in a pivotal time for families like mine and I will savor the moment when our stories change.
We tell stories to lay bare the nugget of truth among the sidesteps and half-truths we’re given. We tell stories to release the shock, the fury, the longing, or to quiet the ache inside.
We tell stories with words like ladders leading us out of the pit – once our thoughts have coiled around us, pulling us down. We tell stories to escape. To free ourselves.
We tell stories because they’re funnier in the retelling than they were the first time around.
We tell stories to remind ourselves there is something coming after now. Something next.
We tell stories in the dark when we can’t sleep, whether or not there is someone nearby to listen.
We tell stories as girls, giggling in our sleeping bags to ward off sleep.
We tell stories on a telephone, stretching that long curly cord down the hallway and into the bathroom where we can close the door for privacy. Or is this another story, another girl, another time?
We tell stories online.
Over coffee or wine.
We tell stories into the silence.
We tell stories over the din.
We tell stories.