Show and Tell – The Understory

Cary Gibson, co-host of Tenx9, strikes again with another lovely story summarizing the 9 stories from May’s theme “Show and Tell.” Enjoy. 

 

Show and Tell.
9 objects tell 9 stories & meet to become one story.

Winning feels really good. But I am not a winner. The object of this story is not me. I’m running through the woods with this flag I captured – a red bandana – covered in another scout’s pee, and it’s the best feeling in the world. And I earned it. Oh, this guy? This toy monkey has traveled the world. Technically, illegal – he’s like a crushed nut shell mule. He once danced for Bono. With much gravitas I might add and to the rock star’s great amusement. I tried not to fan girl. One day he might dance for you. But let me tell you about the time I forgot I had a sister. To be fair, I had been in a coma and was recovering from a traumatic brain injury. This photograph of me and my family told me the story of her. And the people that loved me – the story of me. And I healed. Then on my first day as a teacher, when they handed me this bunch of keys to a school filled with students burdened by social disadvantage, I was overwhelmed and scared. But, by year’s end, this was not the class I’d started with. And I was not the teacher they started with. They changed me. I am better because of those kids – a better teacher, a better person. By the way, did you know that “A church alive is worth the drive”? You do now. Going to that kind of church meant in high school I had to read Harry Potter in secret. Because: witchcraft. One night in college I skeptically joined my roommates in purging everything Harry Potter we owned: holy ghost relief for demonic headaches. But like a thief in the night, I crept out to the trash can & I saved Harry Potter. Not just mine. Their entire stash. Which is how I came to own this DVD. While teaching philosophy and critical thinking, I let a surgeon who wouldn’t listen leave me in chronic pain, unable to walk and dependent on narcotics. An Iranian feminist doctor told me I needed to take control of my narrative. So I did. Which is how I walked over the finish line of the Nashville AIDS Walk in support of my HIV+ friends. It meant I hadn’t died. I had survived. I was more than the sum of my parts. I have this t-shirt to prove it. Let me tell you how my mother used to embroider messages on her clothes but also write words of inspiration in books to give away to other military families like ours. Words to make you think, to warm your day and lift your spirit. Those words were seeds. Crushed at the loss of my teenage dream, my mother gave me her words – a seed of love & inspiration. She gave me my sister too. And then my mother was gone. But that seed? I didn’t let it go. And like my tiny sister, it lived and grew. Something you should know about my parents is that they never talked about their relationship. I knew the dates and facts of their narrative. But not the truth. As a child, the truth of my world existed around me, unseen. Years later, I have fragments of the truth. Like a sweetheart’s letter. What really happened, of how my family came to be, is something I’m still not ready to tell. But now let me take you back to high school. After two years of wearing braces, I felt free as I clutched onto my expensive new retainer. With my new braces-free smile even the cheerleaders found me cute. I was confident. I became Mr. Comedy. Until at the height of my popularity, I lost my retainer in the cafeteria trash. I went from the object of admiration to the butt of the joke. But knee deep in trash, looking for my lost retainer, I found a new friend. 

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