I spent my internship year in Denver Colorado, working at a central city congregation, living in the community at Urban Servant Corp, and simply Living Somewhere Other Than The Midwest. When my car wasn't being repaired, I travelled around a bit. I got around the mountains of Estes Park. I went south to the Pueblo area. I found Route 66, Winslow, Arizona, and hummed a little of the Eagles' song, "Take it Easy." I also found out that New Mexico really is the Land of Enchantment.
There I also discovered the Storyteller doll, a folk craft of the Pueblo Indians. I knew immediately that I wanted one, even though on my intern salary (minus car repairs) I knew that I couldn't afford one.
I wanted one because I knew that I was a storyteller.
I remembered something that happened to me when I was in the eighth grade.
I took a class called "Communications." It seemed at the time to be one of the few electives for eighth graders. The course description said something about writing. I knew I was good at that, so I signed up.
I didn't read the fine print. In the fine print course description, "giving speeches" was also listed. I didn't want to give speeches. I wasn't good at giving speeches. To be truthful, I was not good at standing in front of people. at. all.
One of the first thing we had to do was give a speech. It wasn't a hard speech. It was a speech about how we spent our summer vacation or something. But I was nervous, and spoke very rapidly. It was not a moment of triumph, not at all.
I remember as well the "Pet Peeve" speech, and the "demonstration" speech. I remember them as slightly less horrifying. And then there was the storytelling speech.
I chose to tell the story of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Why, I do not remember. I remember that I liked the story, and that my sister and I had once co-written a poem based on the story which contained this memorable couplet:
"That dastardly man built like Jack Lalanne/Was driving poor Ichabad Crane insane."
I put off giving my story speech until I couldn't put it off any longer. I was the last one. I had to do it. I was so nervous. I had followed the directions of memorizing the first few sentences, and the closing few sentences. But, to be perfectly honest, I didn't remember much else of what transpired. It seemed a little like an out-of-body experience.
I finished and sat down.
I'll always remember what the teacher said next:
"Everyone in this class told a story. But Diane is different. Diane is a storyteller." She gave me an A+.
I'd always been an ok student. But it was the first time in my life that anyone told me that I was the best at something.
In the next few days, I plan to share a few of my own stories -- not necessarily in order. I'm not sure yet what they're for. Maybe by telling them, I'll figure it out.