Wading through stories to figure out which ones to tell

This woman has a story to tell. Her picture is painted on a whitewashed wall inside Texana Trails and Lodge, a bed and breakfast in La Grange that we’ve come to love. A friend of ours named Lennie runs the place, which has been in her family for generations. And her family, the Browns, bought it several generations after it was built, in the mid 1830s, on top of a hill in Fayette County. According to the historical commission sign on the side of the stone house, the location was once considered for the Republic of Texas capitol, but Lennie is the real keeper of the stories. Of the house, of her mother, of her aunt (I think that’s who this is), of the people who settled the land all around it. It would take a lifetime to hear all of the stories that she has to tell.

This woman has a story to tell. Her name is Marina. She’s from Cuba, but over the past 10 or 15 years, has gone through all the legal hoops to stay here legally to be with her daughter and granddaughter. Her husband is on the verge of getting the right paperwork to join her, but the meantime, she waits, making a living I’m not sure exactly how and spending free time with Lala, our mutual friend with whom she came to Lennie’s.

These cookbooks have a story to tell. They’ve been on Lennie’s kitchen shelf for who knows how long, helping countless cooks prepare countless meals.

These handmade lace handkerchiefs have a story to tell. Lennie’s grandmother and great-grandmother made them with enough artistry to impress this Cuban, who learned late in life and in a totally different country the craft of needlework.

These kids and their dads have stories to tell. Of sleepovers and fishing trips and that time Julian lost his tooth way out on the top of a hill out in the Texas countryside.

(Good thing the tooth fairy remembered to get cash before she got too far into the sticks on Friday afternoon.)

These blue bottles, sitting quietly on the windowsill with the best view of the sunset in the whole house, have plenty of stories to tell about the late-night ruckus guests cause around the firepit outside when they’ve had too much wine to drink.

This mama has too many stories to tell.

The more stories she tells, the more stories she finds. The more stories she finds, the more overwhelmed she gets at all the stories she could tell but doesn’t have the energy to tell adequately.

It’s the curse of a writer living in the 21st century, with more publishing/storytelling platforms than any one person should rationally have. Trying to balance the personal versus the private. Trying to decide what’s interesting and of use for public consumption and what is just contributing to the noise that is one day going to make us all go deaf.

Trying to enjoy the moment and make sure all the stories, both personal and professional and in the form of tweets, Instagram pics, blog posts, journal entries and articles, like travelers waiting on a train, are lined up at the right station so they can go on their way with just the right amount of luggage in tow. Too many details, too much information and they’ll just get stuck, never getting to where they want to go. Too little information, too little substance, too much hurry to just get on the go, and they’ll just take up space that some other better story could have had.

I write all this as a way to try to compress the many overlapping stories from our lovely weekend away from home, but also to think out loud about something that has been rolling around in my head in recent weeks.

It’s part apology for falling off the blogging train — I’ve been struggling with many of these same existential social media writing questions there, too — and part therapy for figuring out how to get back on it in a way that feels right and on purpose.

Without ebb, there is no flow, and for now, I’ll mindfully explore the low tide so that when it’s time for the inevitably flood, I will have picked up what I needed during the quiet.

6 responses to “Wading through stories to figure out which ones to tell

  1. Beautiful reflection about taking (making) time out, noticing where you are and what’s around you, proceeding with purpose, telling the stories. Thank you for a much-needed reminder.

  2. I have been pondering a lot of the same questions lately. Thank you for reminding me that sometimes the best way to seek out the answers is to wait quietly and let them come.

    • That “Joy of Cooking” is who knows how old! Thanks for all the nice comments, friends. It is a good problem to have, and just getting it out there really helps get things moving…

  3. Beautifully written. I, too, have been uninspired to write, and torn between “getting something out there” and waiting for something of substance. With the chaos of life, and so many tangible challenges in front of me, it is, at times, hard to justify the time spent contributing to and digesting the virtual world. But I am grateful you do. And I am grateful I can. Love your writing and those photos.

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