Culture

July 26 2011
50

Used to, you’d barter brass buttons for corn or some other foodstuff. It’s what you did when the drought was on and money was tight. You’d meet in the corner of Painter’s Field and make the exchange. Perhaps you’d stay long enough to swap stories, too. Maybe about how Annie’s last batch of canned beans went sour, or how Edna got the Holy Ghost at church last week, or how Johnny had to put his last good mule down. I imagine it as an old-timey thing to do in the South.

These days, few people care much about brass buttons and even fewer store corn for the drought. Now, we employ skills and use paychecks to shop at the Mega-Mart. We avoid eye contact and story swapping. After all, Hollywood has convinced us that their stories are better.

Hollywood is wrong.

Recently, I attempted a bit of a story swapping experiment. I sent a message to my blog subscribers. I postulated, “stories beget stories,” and asked that we do some bartering around the field fence post. It started something like this:

It’s been one hundred and eighty degrees here lately. Interstate 540 is littered with the remains of shredded rubber, hot pavement and friction compromising too many a tire wall. It’s a Goodyear graveyard out there. Yesterday, I laid a right rear tire to rest. It was a good right rear tire. I suspect its pressure was a bit low and the heat of the pavement split it wide open. In the words of Amber (who sure can turn a phrase), “all the cans of fix-a-flat in all the Wal-Marts in America wouldn’ta stopped that.” It was a brutal endeavor, changing into a spare tire in the midst of a nuclear summer. By the time I was finished, I’d lost a gallon of sweat and every bit of my patience. It was an exercise in the fruits of the Spirit, no doubt.

I half expected responses regarding the manner in which to best change a tire quickly, or “didn’t you know that low tire pressure and hot pavement don’t mix,” or “you should always carry water when you’re traveling, you know.” But instead, the replies were more like silent “mm-hmms,” followed by corresponding snippets of life. Stories begat stories, and their progeny was as follows:

My bride and I recently decided to walk the San Antonio Riverwalk after attending the Seventh Annual Texas Expo Tattoo Convention. The Riverwalk is great. Mediocre restaurants and overpriced gift shops line a canal with two feet of sidewalk between business and water. It’s glorious. Wish you were here.

This particular night is Saturday Night on the Riverwalk. Neon mini-skirts and Ed Hardy shirts as far as the eye can see. Very classy. I’m looking for some Aquaphor skin ointment and a stiff drink. My wife’s hankering for ice cream. … Then suddenly I’m being embraced by a grown man I’ve never seen before. He has both arms around my neck, his hand stroking the back of my head, and he’s telling me that he loves me. I immediately shove one arm between our chests and the other free hand to my wallet. His friends are pulling him off of me, but this guy really loves me. … I smell whiskey, steak sauce, and menthols. (God, I hate menthols). And he says, “I love you, man, and I love your beard!” To which I respond, “I’m so glad!” (I’m still holding my wallet.)

… I’ve been a bit depressed lately, and the random worship does wonders for my self-esteem.

Hamster

 

From birth until 5, we lived at 1810 Russell Street, and Juanita lived next door. Everyday when my mom went off to work at the pre-flooded Opryland Hotel, she would sit outside on her porch, squatting on both legs near to the old wooden deck, and hold me in her arms. My mom always wondered why she’d choose to be outside in the heat of the Nashville summer with a cranky baby so close to her chest. We’ve also often marveled at the strength of those legs. Haunches of steel, they must have been. … As I fight the summer itch, I think of Juanita – and I hope for the peace and one-mindness to squat near the ground with what’s precious to me by my heart, and just let the rest sweat away.

Abby Barnhart

The lactation consultant tells my friend that sometimes babies want the breast so badly that they can’t even see it right in front of them because of their distress and it’s her job to calm, soothe and coax them to the point where they can receive what they need and want.
… As I listened to her story, I distinctly remembered the exact same experience happening to me while trying to work out the breastfeeding kinks with all three of our boys and I still remember the words I spoke to soothe, “It’s okay… I have what you need… Shh… It’s okay . . . I have what you need . . . ”

Erika Morrison

What happened to me when I lost my daughter last year was (among other things) that my sense of self was completely broken open. My soul met God for the first time, even after having been raised in church. My soul is now a baby learning to walk…with all the fussiness and impatience and wanting to rush things that a baby has when they want so badly to just be running already.

So this journey here today is all a part of that, or a result of that. It’s beautiful and exhausting and also a bit lonely.

Arianne Segerman

There was joy in the bartering that day. I think we all left that email chain thinking that we had shared something special, thinking that somehow the word of our testimonies had done some collective good. Somehow, in shared story, we found a vent for sweltering heat.

I’m afraid that our society has lost that sense of sharing somewhere. I am afraid that we’ve lost the knowing of interconnectedness.

So, my challenge here today is simple.  Share a brief bit of your story in the comments. Stories beget stories. It’s cathartic. I promise.

50 comments

  1. patti

    dads cancer
    unfaithful husband
    lost baby
    cancer returns
    deteriorates
    death sentence
    6 months?
    5.
    unbearable
    downhill kids
    3 pregnancies
    3 fathers
    2 adoptions
    Iraq
    dui
    broken back
    Iraq
    attempted murder
    dui
    dishonorable discharge
    10 yrs.
    lost
    drug addiction
    abuse
    heroin
    lost
    dui
    divorce
    pregnancy
    arrest
    loveless
    totalled car on roof
    Thank you God

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing this. Really. That was risky and beautiful.

      Reply
  2. So I tells Mable, I tells her… wait. That is a different story.

    So… the heat is still sweltering and I wish I could blame it all on that. Yesterday was a Monday unlike my usual Mondays. One of the dogs was sick and looking to make sure she shared it in every room. Two grandchildren were here wondering when they were going to get fed and I could hear their great-grandfather (my Dad) in the other room going, “WHAT?!?!?” because he won’t turn on his hearing aids if the TV is on (too much background noise). I was already tired from sitting in a dull, grey cubicle all day. And then it happened… somebody deleted my comment on a group Facebook status. All of the sudden all of the world’s injustices were heaped on my shoulders and every rejection I had ever felt since the first time I was picked *last* for the kickball team (“aw, why do we have to have her on our side?”) came rushing back. I WOULD NOT BE DENIED THOUGH. I just got on a different website, sent in a totally whiny “you have rejected God’s child” email, and then, satisfied that I had shown them what was what, proceeded to tell my husband how the world was out to get me. Relatively reasonable woman gone to screaming child kicking and rolling around on floor in about 5 milliseconds. I would like to accuse my husband of giving me a stern talking-to that nobody deserved, but actually he calmly explained to me that I was overreacting and foisting my expectations off on others. Why does he have to pick that moment to be reasonable? Miffed, I turned back to my computer (which suddenly was the better companion again) and there, in my inbox, was a lovely reply apologizing for any hurt and/or inconvenience and how could they help me? Augh! I wanted to crawl under my bed and hide. Or at least put black tape over the lens on my laptop’s webcam so that nobody could see me (I have never used that thing in my life). I get so used to cyber-interaction sometimes that I feel just like people are really here with me. After a few minutes, I realized that nobody was near to see my embarrassment and I went on to more productive endeavors (online bingo, for points, not money). If anybody does ask about it, I’m going to blame it all on the heat.

    Reply
    • This was straight-cash-money! So great. Thanks for sharing this bit.

      Reply
      • Yes, yes… what a blessing that the truth is stranger than fiction in my life! ;)

        Reply
  3. A phenominal post Seth! Thank you!

    It takes me back to a simpler time, albeit not an easier one. One where people were connected and we allowed them to help us raise a barn or change a tire. Life, the world and those who inhabit it hadn’t gotten bad yet. You know what I mean by bad……cynical and guarded. Dang those emotions of protecting oneself, like the man being hugged by the drunk, what was his immediate reaction? To protect his wallet! Not that I don’t understand, because I do. It’s in the protecting that we isolate ourselves somehow.

    I recently set out on a journey of re-connectedness to some dear old friends by starting a facebook page. Something I hadn’t done because I wanted to protect myself. My ego, my feelings…….from my past. It all began when a reuinion of sorts took place in my hometown. Stories were shared, connections were made. No, wait, they were never really lost, just separated. And in all the sharing I realized that #1 – We aren’t alone in our pain. And #2 – Jesus is everywhere doing mighty things through regular people outside of church. WHAT? YUP!

    And so in my decision, my prayerful decision, I did it. I reached out. And right now there are 2 people from my past, whom I haven’t spoken to in over 20 years, that reach out to me, via facebook or the telephone, with their stories, with their struggles, with their pain and have mentioned to me in the last 2 weeks something that blew. me. away……..

    #1 – My story gives them hope.

    #2 – I’m the only one, even though we haven’t seen each other in 25 years, that doesn’t judge them.

    Coming out of isolation and the guardedness that protects me from peoples opinions, lashings, judgements and rejections is giving someone hope.

    In the infamous words of Charlie Sheen…….BRING IT!

    Reply
    • Here is where I first met you, where God wove our hearts together with His kindred Spirit indwelling us… What a gift to visit here again today and see this name that has become dear to my heart. I love you, my friend… and your story… Your friend is right… Your story gives hope.

      Reply
    • Good words here. I think about barn raisings a lot. I’ve only read about them, but I want to go to one. I want to help pull up the frame, then eat Eudel’s blueberry pie. Really.

      Reply
  4. story is why i love blogging so much. i’m not a chef, photographer or decorator. just a voyeur, i suppose….

    today is a day in which i will have to disappoint my 16-year old son. greatly. his dad and i will gently (?) tell him that he can’t lead the youth band at our church anymore. we have tried to allow him to make the decisions, work out the schedule and deal with the band members. but…we hadn’t anticipated the poor choices, the drama associated with teens leading themselves. and we will have to step in. make the decision for him. and it will be unpopular. this mama’s heart is torn. but this is the life of a parent. and no one told me. they gave me onesies and diaper bags and wipe warmers but didn’t take me aside and explain that i would have to break their hearts….

    Reply
    • As a mama of teens, I feel for your heart deeply on this. Keep doing the hard thing, the right thing!

      Reply
      • Kendal, I feel you too. I’m finishing up my last 3 teens in the house. (two adult children, 3 teenagers currently)… Walking through the paths with them has been harder, much harder than navigating the days of toddlerhood and early elementary… The heart aches so often during these years…. I often find glimpses of God’s heart woven in the mix as I walk the roads that are placed before me with those I love more than life itself.

        Reply
    • Today you are not a voyeur. You are a story sharer. Some identify with your story. Others, like me, say “thanks for the heads up.”

      I’ll be there in just a few years. I’m sure.

      Reply
  5. Rebekah Grace: I have heard the same things as I have told parts of my story on my blog. I actually just wrote my story out over the weekend, the emotional contents of it, and how I have been broken and affected and what has contributed to the mess of what my heart is today. God is amazing, and is my protector and provider, and I heal more every day. Especially when I tell parts of my story.

    So with little factual detail, here are some various words and phrases from my story:

    shame
    fear
    insecurity
    bullies
    humiliation
    ugly
    stupid
    worthless
    self hatred
    sexual abuse
    emotional abuse
    abortion
    deeper self hatred
    deeper shame
    emotional lockdown
    extrication from abusive relationship
    judgment
    deeper shame
    neglect
    self hatred
    stupid
    ugly
    worthless
    dating, engagement
    infidelity during engagement
    forgiveness
    marriage
    high need baby
    travel, physical and emotional distance
    rejection
    second baby
    post partum depression
    judgment, unwilling to allow me to take medication
    more shame
    torturous levels of sleep deprivation
    more travel, more physical and emotional distance
    third baby
    criticism and condemnation
    more shame
    failure
    emotional abandonment
    more travel, more physical and emotional distance
    fourth baby
    emotional abuse
    isolation
    rage
    self hatred
    emotional lockdown
    more travel, more physical and emotional distance
    confrontation
    argument
    counseling
    accusation
    separation
    healing
    forced re-entry
    psychological intimidation
    captivity
    reaching out
    sharing my story
    community
    comfort
    writing
    emotional resilience
    impending move to my own place
    impending custody battle
    impending divorce
    hope

    Reply
    • Frelle,

      Thank you. Vulnerability isn’t easy. You have people praying for you. I know it.

      Reply
  6. My world was a Kodak picture for 6 months … filled with sand, sun and sons. We built castles, biked and read books together. I went for almost daily runs. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the country that was to mark a new season for my family and I.

    A new season we got … but not one we wanted. An accident brought the adventure to a crashing halt 3,000 miles from home.

    Thankfully hubs and sons were fine, but horrific injuries almost took my leg and my life. It took 65 units of blood (average person has 8 units) to keep my battered body alive. It took heroic efforts from doctors to save me and my almost-amputated leg. Conversations took place outside my room about my ability to ever walk again … using ending with, even if she walks, she’ll definitely never run again.

    I walked three months later … but with pain, limitations and a deformed leg I was a shell of who I was before. The next four years were not a Kodak picture … they were filled with surgeries, sad prayers, angry journaling, cursing and months of therapy (for my body, mind and spirit)

    One step at a time, my body, mind and spirit recovered. I dared to try running again. For a few years I ran and I wrote. Slowly, but surely, those two disciplines helped me find hope again … and I recently completed a half-marathon (13.1 miles) and a book (to be published this fall).

    Reply
  7. maxine melson

    No one ever told me how hard being a mom really is. If, they did I didn’t listen. I am a mom to two wonderfuls sons. When they were younger I would wish for them to hurry up and grow up. Now, that they are 21 and 23 I wish they were little again. At, least when they are little you can kiss them and make things all better. Sometimes my heart just wants to break for them. I know they have to grow up and make decesions on their own. But. it dosen’t make it any easier on this momma’s heart when they make the wrong ones. I want to say so much but I don’t. Sometimes, I wonder if God does not see me the same way. He knows what is best for me. I don’t listen to him. And his heart is broken. I can always go back to God and ask for his help. And he is there with open arms. I hope my sons know that they can come to me and my arms will always be open for them. My gradma told me when my sons were little ENJOY THEM WHERE THEY ARE LITTLE BECAUSE THEY DO GROW UP!!! What words of wisdom.

    When children are little they walk on your feet— When they grow up they walk on your heart.

    Reply
    • Maxine, I can tell you this, as my daughters are 25 and 22…….on this journey of mine, repentance, forgiveness, mercy and grace to the amazing degrees…..The good Lord has shown me what He allowed me to go through, to choose on my own, as I did for nearly 30 years, and ultimately come to the end of myself and return to the Cross. And through it all…..the astounding truth is He never left my side, in all the horrificness and sin and shame and ugliness and stink….He was there! And so, I say all of that to say, all I can do with the little, tiny, miniscule information I have, is love my daughters, through all their stupid choices that they will pay for later. Why? Because the Father did that with me, He DOES that with me. And He redeems, restores and renews all of it. In His way of course.

      LOVE!

      Reply
  8. More often than not, I find myself hiding.
    Hiding from people. (If I go for a walk the very extroverted neighbor will see me walk by her house and come out and make me talk to her. I better just stay inside.)
    Hiding from God. (He will never be pleased with me. I have only felt unconditional love but rarely, so is it any supriise that I choose the people who have shown me that love over a God who condemns them?)
    Hiding from my children. (Senses screaming, do I have to be touched one more time? Can’t they all go play somewhere else? Just a minute honey, I’m hiding in my computer for a few moments. I’ll just grit my teeth and get through this for a few more hours, then they will go to bed. Maybe tomorrow will be better.)
    Hiding from myself. (Staring at the blank screen, unable to pull together scattered thoughts enough to write something coherant. And yet my whole soule cries out to create!)

    So goes the cycle of Post Partum Depression, Past messages of worth, Life’s big questions.

    Reply
  9. Wrote a long post about life as story:
    http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2011/04/in-middle-of-story.html

    Here is one of mine:
    At the mention of an elderly Methodist minister, my mind instantly leapt to kindly Rev. and Mrs. Allen, my Aunt Nancy’s parents-in-law. I treasure distinct memories of visiting their home in small town Linneus, Missouri, at age seven. I remember Mrs. Allen’s vegetable garden in the front yard, and that she made pickles from the cucumbers she grew. We kids discovered a robin’s nest with pale blue hatched eggs in it, put it in a cardboard box, and took it home. Playing the board game Life, we moved little cars around the board, picking up a tiny plastic spouse and children along the life journey. (Did I ever dream that I would someday need a van to seat 10 children in my Real Life? Not in a million years!) After strolling to the village antique store, I purchased a small glass cat playing with a ball, which might have been the start of my extensive glass animal collection. (Whatever happened to that?) My end-of-day memory was snuggling into a borrowed white flannel nightgown and going to sleep in a cozy guest room in their two story white house. Do you get the feeling of warm welcome and hospitality, of diligent and delightful homemaking? That’s an abiding impression to a young child. It’s funny that I didn’t even recall that it was Thanksgiving until I found an old photo in a box yesterday. The inscription on the back notes that it was 1970, and that Mom Allen took the photo of me reading Good Housekeeping figuring it might make a good ad for the magazine. I’m sorry to say that I am not particularly Good at Housekeeping myself…

    From: http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2009/05/childhood-memories-our-kansas-city.html

    Reply
    • Glad I didn’t end up with a plastic spouse in the end. Good words here.

      Reply
  10. That story I posted was rather idyllic. It’s been a bumpy ride since then. More thoughts on processing our stories here: http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2010/10/truth-and-grace-in-stories-of-our-lives.html

    “Every happening, great and small
    is a parable whereby God speaks to us,
    and the art of life is to get the message.”
    Malcolm Muggeridge

    Reply
  11. it’s amazing what you get when you just say “tell me ’bout it.”
    thanks for sharing and asking, seth.

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing, Abby. You (and Kev, and Erika, and Ari) made this thing WORK.

      Reply
  12. The days continue to tick by as we wait for God to open the job He has planned for us. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, other days it seems like forever. On any given day I can awaken excited about the future yet on the next I can feel the ominous place of uncertain tomorrows. I look for road signs along this highway, something that says, “you’re on the right road”… after all we’ve chosen a stretch of highway that is different from anything we’ve ever taken before. Did we miss a turn? I hear the crickets chirping louder than normal as the silence engulfs me. I wait, I wonder, I struggle until I find that sweet spot next to the Father’s heart where peace invades my soul.

    Reply
    • You AMAZE me…..truly! Have you written today? You are a beautiful wordsmith my dear friend!

      Reply
      • My friend… you are THE best cheerleader a girl could ask for… .YES I have written today. Have a post almost ready to go… Hopefully will be up tonight! Love you… MUCH!

        Reply
    • Sometimes I find that the cricket’s chirp is soothing. Silence can be golden if it leads us to the “sweet spot.” Thanks for these words.

      Reply
  13. The Dog Who Lived is dead.
    Abused, he wandered to our farm. My mother hustled him off to the pound, my dad bailed him out. Dad saw something in the sheep dog who was afraid of hoses and liked burritos. Unfortunately the dog wasn’t afraid of of sheep and took a trip to the neighbors pasture where he received a BB gunshot to the face. Surgery followed. He kept the mean rooster away and we loved him. Later, that one-eyed wonder was ran over, the car, on his blindside. My parents thought he was done for, but my sister begged and they took that farm dog to the vet, who laughed and called it road rash. Then the maggots came. Then the tumors. Surgery followed.
    He kept going even in his later years, took his arthritis medicine, emptied his bladder on the back porch and wagged his tail every time we squeezed past his tired body to open the door. He didn’t get around much in the end, but he always had a tail wag.
    He died Sunday. Mom cried and asked me to write a eulogy. So, I did, just now.

    Reply
    • On another website I frequent, quite frequently, when we like something someone posted, instead of giving novel length replies, which I am SO good at, we do this:

      +1

      Reply
      • JoAnn, We lost our dog of 12 years this past March… a few days after my husband lost his job. It was a very sad time in our lives. Diamond had become a member of our family… my husband was with him when he died… We still think of that dog… I’m so sorry, I know it hurts to lose a pet as they become one of us….

        Reply
        • JoAnn, this was GREAT!

          Todd was a black lab mix with floppy ears and a speckled tongue. He was my first pup. Our church worship leader, the charismatic, holy-ghost Baptist, gave him to us one night after a house church service. The minister had just finished playing a rousing rendition of Awesome God, then he opened the screen door, grabbed Todd, and handed me my very first pup.

          Todd had a knack for digging under barbed wire and one day made his way into the dirt road. His back legs were broken by a drunk Buick Skylark and we had to take him to the vet to put him down. My mom told me I couldn’t pet him on account of he might try to bite me. Scared animals always bite the hand that feeds them, she told me. Mom didn’t have the cash to put him down, so she used my birthday money to get the job done.

          I cried when Todd went to be with St. Francis, but mom took me to McDonald’s to make up for it. It’s amazing how much solace is in the bottom of a Happy Meal.

          Reply
  14. I lay on my bed in the hotel room and she lay on hers, restless from a phone conversation with her husband and their son who refused to take his medication. It’s late but no sleeping will be had until she comes back down. So I turn and ask her to tell me her love story. And as she recounts the tale, the glory and the drama, I wonder if someday I’ll lay in a hotel room and recount my own love story to a friend of my heart.

    Reply
    • This reminds me of a Hemingway short. So much said with such good word economy.
      Very nice.

      Reply
  15. Even though I’m going through the toughest season of my life right now, and I could share something sad, moving, or inspirational, I’ll just share something funny.

    It was about 4 years ago at the Great Chili Cook-off, which is held at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia every year. The event always takes place in September so hopefully the temperatures have cooled off just a little. Not this year, it was a scorcher. I remember I drank 2 or 3 ice cold beers and about twice as many ice cold waters.
    Throughout the day of tasting chili and Brunswick stew, I had to keep some kind of cold refreshing beverage in my hand. One, because of how unbearably hot it was, more importantly because most of the chili was so stinking spicy hot. Now let me tell you, some of the offerings are quite tasty but some of the other offerings are almost puke in your mouth disgusting.
    Right about the time I decided I was going to surrender for the day and give my taste buds a much refreshing break; I noticed a table in the corner of the event, back in the woods, hidden mostly by trees. Although the location was rather secluded, quite the large gathering had assembled around the tasting table. Behind the table were two incredibly talented sales men, the kind you see selling magic potion at a carnival side show. They immediately drew me in.
    What these two men were selling, actually giving away, was what they described as the hottest chili on the planet. On the planet they claimed! Well, I’m a skeptic and I had tasted what I thought to be pretty darn hot chili throughout the day, so I figured these two men were just trying to drum up their reputation a little bit. So I walked up and challenged them by saying, “I’ll try some, it can’t be that hot”. But before I could get my hands on the goods, the mood turned serious.
    One of the two overly loud magic potion salesmen got real quiet and warned me that the chili that I was about to eat was extremely hot and that I could change my mind. Of course by this point, most of the crowd was focused on the next victim, the victim being me. With all of these eyes peering at me in anticipation, I had no choice but to eat.
    What an observation; if the loud man getting quiet with his warning wasn’t enough to dissuade me and the crowd anxiously looking on as I grabbed the small spoonful of chili from the man’s hand wasn’t enough to change my mind, then I deserved what came next.
    I boldly ate the bite of chili and as soon as the spoon left my mouth, the crowd of onlookers gasped in surprise and most of them started snapping pictures. I must have seen 20 or so flashes explode in the relative darkness of the shaded corner we were standing in. It was about that time that I realized I had made an awful mistake. The pain of the immense heat in my mouth took about 30 seconds to fully engulf the inside of my lips. My throat became raw, sweat started beading on my bald head, and fear started pulsing through my veins. I couldn’t even speak. My only thought was what have I done?
    My fear quickly turned to embarrassment and I quickly walked away, fortunately the table of horror was about to claim a new victim so I became old news to the new jester in the crowd. Of course this was the first time during the entire day that I didn’t have a drink. And because of the remote location of the torture table, there were no vending stands in sight.
    I walked as quickly as I could, trying to find something to help quench my fiery pain. Unfortunately when I did get my hands on a tall bottle of ice cold water, it did little good to relieve the pain. Time . . . time was my only relief. The severe pain lasted 15-20 minutes; uncomfortable pain lasted 45-60 minutes. My lips were still numb when I went to sleep that night. I won’t even start to describe the pain I felt the following, if you know what I mean.

    Moral of the story . . . if someone claims to have the hottest chili on the planet and there is a large crowd gathered around waiting for the show, don’t become the main character.

    Reply
    • The pain the next morning? Yes. I know what you mean.

      Laughed out loud at this one. Not at you, brother… with you. Yeah, that’s it… with you.
      Thanks for sharing this. I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t made the same mistake. But it was with Thai peppers at a hole-in-the-wall.

      Reply
  16. Nish

    It was hot out. The kind of hot where the sweat beads and trickles before your ass hits the driver’s seat. But, I didn’t care. Kanye’s rhymes filled the car then flew carelessly out of the driver’s side window along with stringy strands of my hair. I got about two miles down the road before my insides cracked open and I cried. Wept. Sucked in the air like each breath was my last and I pulled over on the side of the road. I’m not sure what it was. Maybe it was the lack of community – feeling like a nomad with no home. Maybe it was the stress of selling the home we have. Maybe it was uncertainty. Maybe it was the depression and my inability to get rid of it. Maybe.

    It felt like God just let me slip through His fingers.

    But when I caught my breath and hung my head, pressed my forehead against the steering wheel, I realized it wasn’t Him that was letting go, loosening His grip. It was me. Finally.

    And I could breathe.

    Reply
    • Nish, thanks for sharing this story. Keep on breathing.

      And thanks for providing this format.

      Reply
  17. Wow. We should do this more often. Seems like, at least figuratively, we are raising a barn of sorts… a shelter to protect us all while we get vulerable with each other…

    Reply
    • Yes, this is good fun. The email subscribers to my blog share once a month. It’s good fun, though the readership is smaller so there is a bit less pressure. We’ve enjoyed it, though.

      Reply
  18. true-dat. great post.

    story swapping.

    for me, the power of this nearly lost art rests in the idea that when we share stories we are truly sharing of our “selves”.

    such a simple yet magical thing – one soul meets another and they pause to listen with their whole hearts to one another (can happen in the grocery line – in fact happens to me often there)— to share a piece of themselves in the form of their story. my husband is (and has always been) beyond gifted in this. listening. what a blessing when we listen/share!!!

    thank you for the opportunity to do both here with y’all today. each and every story above touched me. and to Young Mom a hug – you are not alone. ;)

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    • The listening seems to be the hard part for my generation. I think it’s almost as lost an art as the sharing. Thanks for bringing that aspect up.

      I too have been blessed by all of these stories. Thank you all for making this “experiment” work.

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  19. Joy

    She hurt me so much with her rejection of my life choices. How could she who knew me the best of any person this side of the globe tell me she could not support me and would not be a part of a life she disagreed with? As an ex-best friend, I didn’t get to hear the fun details of her engagement, didn’t get to see her wedding invitation, much less the wedding. I mailed a little gift to her parents house, because she didn’t give me her new address. She emailed me, telling of the new little life inside her. I chose to rejoice with her. Then the little life wasn’t to be: I found decent words to say to her when she was hurting. Does she not see that it was in that state that she’d rejected? I’m screaming, “I want to be your friend! I still love you, no matter how you live.” She still turns away, those words impossible for her to say to me.

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