August 28, 2011
I had the opportunity to share some of my work at a reading last night. It was just a few small pieces that I had written while in self-imposed exile so I didn’t really think too highly of them. And this is not because I thought they were poorly written or inadequate. It was only because I didn’t know.
There was no teacher that put a big “A” on the paper that I had expressed myself upon, and there were no passersby who stopped in their tracks while I was writing it and told me what a gorgeous piece it was. No, there was nothing close to that; these children were born deep in the country with no midwife or witnesses present to confirm their existence. Therefore there was no way of knowing whether or not they would be accepted by their peers on the first day of kindergarten down at the schoolhouse.
I stood there nervous as hell in front of about 30 people behind a microphone that was set up just a little too high for me. The reading was being held in an art room in the somewhat gentrified but still very hood Mission district of San Francisco, CA. The space is very loving and the people present appeared to be positive and nurturing but I was still scarred—scared that I would stumble over the words written on the page before me, scared they just wouldn’t understand, and scared they would tease my babies mercilessly about their country accents and their strange ways.
I got over it.
Then shockingly enough when I spoke they listened, they laughed, and they were engaged. Yes, I had moved the crowd. And when I say moved the crowd I don’t mean I made them “Throw their hands in the air/ and wave them like they just didn’t care,” I only mean that for that small five-minute interval they followed my words. They could feel them, they could see the images I had created, and on some level they could relate to them.
It was such an exhilarating moment for this writer to know that I had not toiled in vain. To know that the craft that I have sacrificed so much to learn how to do is still appreciated by a select few. When the event was over a stranger who was in attendance approached me. He looked me in the eyes and said; “Hey that was good stuff.” I gave him a generic response about how I was glad he liked, but he wasn’t having it. “No,” he responded to me slightly annoyed. “I’m serious that was really good stuff.”
I smiled and took a few seconds to soak it up.
“I really appreciate that,” I told him.
God bless my little country children. They made me so proud.