Many years ago, I read Charlotte Zolotow's OVER AND OVER to youngest daughter Hannah... over and over. To everything there is a time and a season; everything begins again, over and over, every day, every year.
Hannah loved that book. So did -- do -- I. It is part of my personal canon. I want to do several posts on personal canons and hope to do that this summer -- what books influenced you most as a reader? A writer? A teacher? A parent? A human being. Be thinking about that.
I look at Hannah now -- here she is, above, home on a break from her work for the Obama campaign (home in Atlanta, to hear Obama speak), with her friend and fellow volunteer Andrew -- and wonder how those books her father and I read over and over to her have influenced her, as she makes her own choices in the world.
Here is Mark, who grew up with my older kids. Now he is growing a family of his own. Over and over. Look at those intent, intense eyes! Full of joy and pride. And, is there a hint of exhaustion? Maybe more than a hint... lovely, though, so lovely.
Life repeats itself, and we grow older, our children grow older, the cycle begins again. Our lives have meaning to the extent that we tell our stories, save them in some form -- writing is just one way. But it is our job to share these stories.
Look at this reader, sharing her stories with me! After my Urbana Library gig last week, when almost everyone had cleared out and, almost two hours later, it was time to pack up and go, this reader, who had waited and waited for a chance to be heard, shared her thoughts about LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER and EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS. Look at her expression, and look at her hands... she had me completed captivated. She was so earnest, so intense. She saw things in the books that I never intended to put there. That's what's exciting about giving up a book and putting it into a reader's hands. The story belongs to the reader then. And, the reader can not only relate her own experience to the story, she can tell her own stories -- she can share a bit of her own heart. I treasure this give and take.
Over and over, story is reborn, refined, remade. What is your story?
What is THIS guy's story? Ha!
Jim meets Moose, at friend Sue's home.
Find an old photograph -- or a new one -- these are all new photographs from last week -- and tell your story. So many of you wrote me to say you had had heart palpitations over Frankie Avalon -- well... what was that like? Tell a story.
Tell a story of old places. I remember, over and over, mowing this grass, for 25 years... I know intimately the terrain around each tree. Now I am learning a new terrain, in Atlanta, a new garden of my own construction, and I am making new memories, new stories.
Over and over I revisit old friends. We break bread together and catch up with one another, telling story after story.
Over and over I play Bingo at the fireman's carnival under the stars, using corn kernels for markers. Ten cents a card, three cards for a quarter, and a big two bucks for a single winner of any game of Bingo. I won! I won! (I do not win, over and over!)
Over and over, I run into old neighbors, new neighbors, folks who are full of stories to tell.
Over and over we get the chance to tell our stories, until.... we don't anymore.
One of my very best friends in the world has just had that choice taken from her. Her mind is not cooperating with the rest of her body, and her stories lay mute for now. How I miss her, even though she is still here.
We never know. We never know when, over and over, we are no longer able to share our stories.
Share now. Share while you can. Look at all these pomegranate seeds... so many seeds -- stories -- inside each fruit. Dust off that notebook. Sketch out some memory, some moment, give it some meaning. Tell your stories, while you remember. There is no better time or place than now. Over and over.