Stories with Strangers

Stories with Strangers

By Jackson Leon

People of all different backgrounds and professions gathered in Troy, New York on Tuesday night to share personal stories of fear, vulnerability, and uncertainty. The gorgeous garden patio of Lucas Confectionery offered a lovely backdrop for some of Upstate NY’s most creative minds to showcase their talents. Front Parlor Storytelling organized the event; the theme of the night being “unreasonable.” The tales varied from failed marriages to random escapades through midtown Manhattan in search of chicken nuggets; from tales of sneaking through the woods into music festivals to tales of being the first teacher in space. However, each tale shared the common theme of intense strength, creativity, and the wit of the human race.

One woman told the story of her shock at meeting her brother’s newborn baby who had several touch-and-go procedures in the NICU and a healthy baby that was delivered back to her mother. I was so impressed by the resilience that this tiny person managed to have. Another woman spoke of her toxic marriage with her ex-husband and how after four years she finally garnered the strength to kick him out of the house. Men and women, young and old, all filtered through the dimly lit bar with the same fluidity that their stories flowed to my ears. I was completely and happily captivated the entire night.

One young man about my age even tested the waters a little by telling us all of his Spring break trip to Italy, and his hopes of finding his dream man. His trip didn’t end in love unfortunately. However, he had a great time clubbing with his friends. At one of these clubs he somehow ended up in a bathroom stall with a strapping Australian he had met. It was refreshing to hear people speak so open and honestly.

Finally, an elderly blind man took to the microphone, and the words he spoke not only shocked but inspired me – everyone in the room for that matter. He told the story of when his friend let him drive his Tesla out in Lake George. I of course was shocked that a blind man could drive! He let the shock settle for just a moment and then revealed the Tesla’s auto pilot feature. This man expressed so much confidence and bravery to showcase his disability in such a humorous light. I almost burst out of my chair laughing when an audience member tried to ask a question, and the man replied, “I’m sorry I didn’t see your hand up.”

Stories have a way of bringing people together. When I first took my seat, everyone appeared to be complete strangers. Present only to share a love for the literary world. As I watched each writer step bravely into the limelight and weave the words of their hearts’ into magnificent stories; I realized that we all had so much in common. Through every person’s story we learn of the unreasonable powers of the mind, and the uncanny relation that we all share – all we have to do is listen.

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