Out and About: Looking for StoryMatters

Last week in my “Around the Bend” column, I declared that as the Addison Independent’s community calendar editor, I felt that I should make more of an effort to attend at least some of the community events I compile each week. Along with that, I promised to write about my experiences, in blog form. So here it is: the first installment of my new Addison Independent blog, “Out and About.”

I didn’t exactly jump on this new project. It took about a week for me to make it to my first official Out and About event: On Wednesday night, I went to the StoryMatters meeting at the Ilsley Library in Middlebury. I don’t know much about storytelling, but I am a fan of “The Moth Radio Hour” (“True stories, told live, without notes), and I expected it to be a much smaller, more casual version of that.

I have never attended StoryMatters. But I know, from reading (and writing) the community calendar, that the group meets regularly to keep alive the ancient art of storytelling. Tellers and listeners are, according to the calendar entry, welcome.

I would be a listener only.

But first I would have to get there. The success of this whole Out and About experiment — to become more involved in community events — depends on me overcoming my inherent preference to Just Stay Home. I went back and forth with it all day Wednesday.

In the morning, I looked forward to finding out what StoryMatters was like. By the afternoon, however, the weather had turned cold, windy and wet, and my desire to come home from work and stay there grew stronger. By dinnertime I had decided to skip StoryMatters in favor of curling up on the couch, drinking hot tea and knitting.

I got a second wind after supper, however, and I rallied. You can’t commit to being more involved, I reasoned, and then spend your evening making excuses for why you should stay holed up at home. Plus this month’s theme was spooky Halloween stories; by next month, what with Thanksgiving on the horizon, the theme would probably be about family and gratitude; these are fine, I guess, but they don’t make you scream in fear and delight. The more I thought about it, the more fun a Halloween story night sounded.

So at 6:50, I left the house and made my way, in the dark, through the rain and swirling leaves, to my car.

Driving to the library, I pondered a few questions. Would anyone else show up? Would I know anyone there? Would people be nice, or standoffish? Would there be refreshments? Would I learn any techniques for better storytelling, so that at the next party I attended, crowds would gather around me and listen, spellbound, to any anecdote I recounted?

It suddenly struck me that maybe the “listeners welcome” tag in the calendar was just a ruse. Once I arrived, would I be ordered to regale the other attendees with a real-life tale of terror? I hoped not, but just in case, I came up with two: the time when my husband was out of town and my 3-year-old daughter’s talking Ernie doll struck up a one-sided conversation, a propos of nothing, at 3 in the morning, causing me to consider fleeing the house with my sleeping child in my arms; and the time when, at age 10, I snuck into the movies to see “Amityville Horror” — a truly bad idea in retrospect — and that night a giant framed map fell off my bedroom wall and crashed to the floor for no apparent reason (other than that the house was possessed).

By the time I pulled into the library parking lot, I was downright upbeat about the experience I was about to have.

Battling a fierce wind, I approached the Ilsley’s side door. Through the darkness, I could just make out a sign taped to the inside of the glass: “StoryMatters cancelled due to inclement weather.”


So there you go: My first official “Out and About” event didn’t even happen.

But that’s OK. I at least fulfilled my end of the bargain, and now I’m looking forward to the next StoryMatters meeting, even if it does end up being about love and thankfulness instead of ghostly visions, blood running down the walls and other fun stuff. I don’t know when that will be yet, but keep an eye out for it in the Addison Independent community calendar.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

To learn more about StoryMatters, contact Len Rowell at lar17g@comcast.net

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100