Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In gratitude for Tuesday nights

Marty Levin tells
at Tuesday night storytelling 
For most Tuesday nights over the last 20 years, I have listened to and told stories with a group of passionate storytellers. Sometimes it's been in a basement bookstore, other times in a library, most recently it's been in an art gallery. Tuesday nights have been my church; tonight was the last time I was a regular member of this congregation. It's sweet and sad and appropriate and I am so grateful. Let me explain.

Twenty years ago I went to an evening of storytelling hosted by Brother Blue. It was part of a regular storytelling series, one of the first in the country. I was so excited and so scared. I listened to all of the other tellers thinking they each were incredible and, when it was my turn, stood up with knees shaking and told in front of an audience for the first time. I told a story about life and death, wishes and capability. Brother Blue and Ruth listened with utter intensity, the way they always did, and at the end of it I knew my life was on a different course. I knew I would always tell stories, though I didn't necessarily know how.

What I didn't know then was how this community would become a vital part of my life. Over the last 20 years they have seen me through cancer, we have celebrated and cried and grieved together, they have watched me fall in love and, throughout it all, they have supported me. When I told this community that I was going to make storytelling my life's work, that I was answering the call, they responded with, "yes!" And when I told them about my failures and triumphs, sorrows and joys, they listened. They have loved me and held me in their hearts. I am who I am because of them. We have become a family.

Like the best of families, they have given me the space to grow up and change, the opportunity to experiment and a homebase to come back to. They have strengthened and embarrassed me, and straightened me out when I've drifted. Like a family, I have grown up, from novice to leader. And, like family, the time has come to leave the nest.

In a few weeks I'm moving 1500 miles away. I won't be able to come to Tuesday nights again anytime soon. But I bring with me everything they have taught me. What works and what doesn't. How to love and how to listen. And I bring with me the truths I've learned from Brother Blue. This community doesn't need me to preach the gospel of story to them.

But other places do.

And that's what I'm going to do. I'm taking all I have learned, all I have been loved into understanding, and I'm spreading the word. That the stories we tell matter. That listening can save a life. That storytelling can change the world.

Tonight at my last-for-awhile Tuesday night storytelling I told the same story I told that first night. I wasn't afraid this time. Instead I put all of my love and gratitude into the words of life and death, wishes and capability. And I remembered that sometimes, happily ever after really means once upon a time.

As my partner Kevin and I drove away for the last time, drove towards our next adventure, we talked about how grateful we are. What we are taking with us. And how much we are looking forward to sharing what we have learned, from both Brother Blue and from this community.

Thank you for everything. From the middle of the middle of me to the middle of the middle of you, I love you forever and ever and ever, ah.

(c)2012 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. I am so sorry I missed your last Tue night which was to be my 1st tue. My chest cold drove me to my decision. With aches, coughing and sputtering in a voice not my own it was clear that I not make the trek to Cambridge as a performer. But now in hindsight I regret I did not journey there as a listener.
    Laura you were the 1st Sharing the Fire speaker I ever heard. and through the years both you and Kevin have enlightened and delighted my soul with tales, and Story fellowship.
    I will see you again, but alas it may be a long time before I see you perform again. For that I grieve.
    Thank you for all your contributions to LANES and the folks in this region.
    Learnin' Vernon

  2. It was so wonderful to be a small part of that Tuesday night family, like a distant cousin who had come to visit and delight in the open hearts, minds and arms of Brother Blue's family.

    We will run into each other again, it is a small world, this storytelling business!



True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.truestorieshonestlies.blogspot.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.laurapacker.com.
Related Posts with Thumbnails