Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stories in Passing

We waited to cross the road, she carrying her banjo and I was on my way to teach my class. A car stopped on a steep hill and waited for us to cross.

"I hope that isn't a standard shift car," my companion said. "I remember my first time trying to drive one. And one time my mother and I were with my grandfather and he had an old car that had a starter button on the floor. We had to stop at the top of a hill and in order to get going he had to press the gas, hold the brake and press the starter. He could not get his feet in a position to do that, and every time he tried we rolled backwards a ways. It was a long, steep hill, and we were scared to death. We ended up at the very bottom of the hill finally.

I can just imagine the breathless quiet in the car as it lurched down the hill, and the frustration and fear of the grandfather as he tried and failed, tried and failed. Her words painted a picture that I could feel, if that makes sense. And that's what a storyteller tries to do--make pictures that listeners can see, feel, hear, taste and smell. Along with all that, we are also trying to create a story the listener identifies with, something he/she can hook their own experiences and knowledge to, and perhaps recall stories of their own.

My companion's story reminded me of so many experiences of my own: learning to drive our van when I was 24 or 25 and being so tired that I drove it right into a ditch with my husband and four children all yelling. "What are you doing?" my husband screamed. "Driving," I said--and then realized I was in the ditch.

Do these stories remind you of driving experiences, of the days when standards were pretty much the only transmissions available, or of the time you were learning to drive, or teaching someone to drive?

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Susan Anderson said...

Yes, they really do remind me of trying to keep that clutch in just the right position so my car wouldn't slip down steep hills, especially in San Francisco! In fact, I still have to contend with that once in a while when I switch cars with my son for his camping trips. His little standard transmission Honda Civic can be quite challenging on those San Francisco streets!


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