Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Story Road

The stories I tell come from a place where I never thought good things would grow
Story Road

Story Road

Above all else, telling stories is what I like to do best. When I was a kid, the stories I told totally bent the truth more than I should have, because I wanted to be liked and the life I was living and the people I was living with weren’t very likeable.  To be honest (something I came to fiercely embrace before I was old enough to vote, thank goodness), if I’d told the truth between the ages of, well… birth and my junior year of high school – child protective services would’ve taken me away where the stories likely wouldn’t have been any less ugly in some other household(s).

Before we continue, let’s get one thing straight: I have never believed that I am a victim of what transpired Once Upon a Time.  Despite living in a turbulent household with wildly inappropriate adults (?), I always felt that I sat in a bit of a catbird seat back then, shaking my head at the goings-on around me.  Even before I entered kindergarten, I knew that the grown-ups I watched didn’t have it all together, mostly because I’d read plenty of wonderful stories about ones who had.

Where the real world was warped and distorted, books provided me with an entirely different and delicious view of the world.  See, my Grandpa Andy began working on my reading skills when I was a tiny little 2 year old.  His eyes weren’t very good and he wanted someone to read him the headlines from the San Jose Mercury and tell him the specifics of the horse races of the green sports pages of the San Francisco Chronicle before he made the effort to don a pair of glasses to read the tiny print himself.  [Above all else, he was a man of academic efficiency.]  So, he helped me identify letters and how to put them all together and sound them out so I could become his pint-sized secretary. As an early-early talker, language in all forms fascinated me and being given the keys to even MORE words was incredibly exciting and I graduated from the paper to books right away.

By the time I entered kindergarten I was pretty good at the reading thing and at home read not only whatever was handed to me, but whatever I could find on the bookshelves (sometimes not age appropriate, but what went over my head didn’t hurt me).  The year I entered fifth grade I received a gift of the book that would change my life and my perception of the entire world:  a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  When I read that 11 year old Francie Nolan, only a year older than me, had an alcoholic father and helped take care of her family and even stood her ground against the creepy, lecherous junkman Carney, I knew that I had found a sister in spirit and that book gave me permission to grow where I was planted, just like the Tree of Heaven, outside the Nolan’s apartment building, the one that struggled to reach the sky despite the boarded up lots and neglected rubbish heaps.

As an adult, I grew to tell the stories of my life and the people around me just as I saw them – honestly and without varnish and frippery.  Mostly, because I’d read stories about real people who are just as interesting as the ones that spring from fantasy.  My life has been filled with some of the most colorful characters, ranging in tone from a depressing and harsh gun metal gray to a spangle-y cheap hot pink plastic trying to pass itself off as something of great value.  Occasionally, there have been a handful of true and genuine precious gems, but those have been rather rare and I’ve often kept them under wraps – because I’m not quite ready to share them with the world.  Not yet.  Those are stories I tell myself in quiet moments, because it is sometimes still difficult for me to accept that they are real, and mine.

This past weekend, I came off a stage to the kind words of a young man who said, “I just loved listening to you talk. I wish I had a CD of you telling stories.”  *Blush* It was truly one of the kindest compliments I have ever received.  Smiling, I told him that storytelling was probably one of my most favorite things to do and I do so every chance I get, but I’ve not yet recorded them.  Not yet.

Then, I told him and a small audience of half a dozen people what I recently discovered.  Well, RE-discovered.  While in Northern California I was compelled to drive into my childhood neighborhood to revisit where I’d lived in my formative years, a place I’d not seen in decades.  As the navigation system blurted out the streets as we approached the area where the House of Horrors (as I’d taken to calling it over the years, long after I’d left), I suddenly remembered – just before the Waze lady announced it — “Oh, my gosh!  We’re going to turn onto… Story Road in a minute.”  Until that very moment, the decades fell away and I remembered that the largest street one block from my house was named Story Road.  My husband chuckled and said, “Imagine that.  The storyteller grew up off of Story Road.”

The stories I tell come from a place where I never thought good things would grow

My stories overflow and overwhelm my heart and head at times, but knowing where I come – Story Road – helps an awful lot.

Betty Smith, the woman who wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn said, “I am indebted to chance acquaintances on trains and in bus stations for exchanged confidences about the everlasting verities of life. I am deeply obligated to a person who caused me much anguish because the grief made me grow up emotionally and gave me a little more understanding.”  The stories I tell come from a place where I never thought good things would grow.  Betty Smith wrote how her tree “grew lushly, but only in the tenement districts.”  I have no regrets about where I come from, where I’ve been and where I’m going.  After all, I started on Story Road.

xo – t

“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.” – Willa Cather

“God mad man because he loves stories.” – Yiddish Quote

“It has pleased God that divine verities should not enter the heart through the understanding, but the understanding through the heart.” – Blaise Pascal

Verity (noun), plural verities

  1. The state or quality of being true; accordance with fact or reality.
  2. Something that is true, as a principle, belief, idea or statement.