A Few Words About Me

When I was a tween, I had a blue canoe that I named ‘The Novel Idea’. I thought it would be doubly funny if I read novels in it while on the river by my house. I never read a book in it, because I was too afraid of tipping the canoe while launching it, so I’d leave the book on the riverbank in a plastic bag. But I knew the book was lying there. The riverbank was a small strip of land across the street from my big red farm house in a small town in Massachusetts. The town is less small now, but the house is just as red. I grew up the youngest of nine children, with most of my siblings being so much older, that it felt as though I were an only child, with really young aunts and uncles who didn’t behave with the level of polite distance that aunts and uncles should. Aunts and uncles never eat your cereal; siblings do. My mother taught piano in one of two conjoined living rooms, which were separated by two creaky, sliding doors. The mothers of her students would sit in the front living room, reading, or enduring my entertainment, which was never quiet enough to prevent my mother from, repeatedly, stopping her lessons to tell me to leave, and go do my homework, or anything else. So it’s safe to say that, from an early age, my imagination and desire to entertain worked in tandem to ensure that no conventional life was lived by me. ​​

I remember the first time I noticed the intoxicating power of storytelling. I was 12, and doing a monologue about the Vietnam War, obviously. Perhaps everyone was embarrassed for me, but I didn’t care. The feeling that a crowd of people was actively listening to a story in which I was involved was the greatest thrill I’d ever felt. I know now that it was the feeling of being present in a moment with a group of people, listening, connecting, learning, and really living. 

Because that’s what stories do: they remind each of us of our connection, of our shared humanity, and we yearn for them. Whether reading, listening, acting, singing, dancing, writing, watching, we bend towards wanting to know, wanting to see ourselves, and each other. And it’s in that reminding - in that moment - that we remember to, truly, live. 

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