Tuesday, May 17, 2011

deaf ears; or, when the theatre is empty you have to leave the stage

I am by nature a storyteller. I view the world as narrative(s). Even while in the midst of an activity I think about what story I will tell. I watch the world around me for images, sounds, colors, themes, sound bites so that I can create my story. I hold stories in my mouth until they are polished and glowing. I had a bit of low point yesterday when I realized that I have been shaping these stories for one person. Someone who told me long ago that he doesn't want to hear them anymore.

My realization that I think about this lost friend more than I ever realized came this weekend when I had a similar experience with a different friend I hadn't seen for a while. This weekend I went to San Francisco. I spent three days, mostly on my own, touring the city and then running in the 100th Bay to Breakers. On Friday, I drove to the city, I had dinner with some friends, and checked into my hotel. Saturday was spent touring Alcatraz and Angel Island, then on Sunday the race. As usual for those of us who watch for stories I had my share. I was supposed to meet this friend in the city and I was looking forward to sharing my adventures with him. I greedily gobbled up each interesting thing and sprinkled the details into the stories I was writing in my head. But then, we never met up (his fault). I was so intensely disappointed. I kept asking myself why this was so painful for me? This was just a friend, nothing romantic, and yet I felt like a jilted lover. And then it hit: I was disappointed that I couldn't tell him the stories I had collected for him. My disappointment was a reflection of the pain I have been feeling for another. I have been doing that for another for nearly 8 years.

Swallowing words can leave you ravenous. I am not able to stay silent for long, so eventually I tell my stories to whomever will listen. But, because they were crafted for one person I am always disappointed in the telling. I choose words and details that I know he would like. I am unfairly impatient with my audience, waiting for a reaction that can't ever come. It is a cruel life and hopefully with this epiphany will come change. I can't keep talking to someone who isn't there. In the words of Rihanna (sage that she is) its been quite a show, very entertaining, but this show is over it's time to leave the stage: at least for now.


  1. I know that feeling to a lesser extent, I think. I always come to a point when I have to ask myself why I'm putting so much effort into something where I'm getting nothing in return. And this realization takes me years. Finally, I have tried to stop letting people in, but that's only somewhat successful.

    I was hoping that the enlightenment was much more positive than this. (I can see how one could be all "the sun'll come out tomorrow" about this, which is why I said "more positive.")

    I know that it isn't the same, but there are many who come to your storytelling table with knives and forks and with napkins tucked into our shirts, ready to devour what you have to share.

  2. Oh, and: Congrats on the Bay to Breakers!

  3. Thanks V-- for both comments!