moth

Last week New York was overcome by an early summer heatwave, and I was simultaneously stricken by some kind of awful sinus infection that made it hard for me to breathe the very stagnant 97-degree air or sleep or think straight. Of course, the air in my little loft above my fourth-floor-walkup apartment was not conditioned in any sense, it was heavy and hot and sticky and made me curse my sheets for being made of fabric.

So by Thursday, I did not want to go home after work. I looked desperately through the dismal collection of movies in theaters, thinking of ways to extend my time in any not-home place that was even a little bit cool. Then I thought to look at The Moth, on which I've become somewhat fixated for a couple years. And lo, they were having a story slam in SoHo that very evening. So I coerced a coworker to join me, and we went downtown and endured a sweaty wait outside, where we were accosted by a half-hearted Occupy fanatic who I have to give credit to for his relentless faith in a person's ability to be "riled up" about anything when it's 97 degrees outside. His little flyer was typeset well, what can I say.

There's something about the Moth that sucks me in -- the idea of getting up on that stage myself and telling a story to a crowd of strangers is hard for me to set aside. I want to do it. In fact, I thought about this very thing when I was on a bus that late Monday night back to Boston after my marathon day of interviews in New York, when the idea of moving back here was just a nice fantasy. I don't know why it popped into my head, but I thought about taking my not-so-fragile-as-I-thought self up on that stage and looking these strangers in the eye and telling them stories, I thought about how nervous it would make me, how exciting those nerves would be, how it would feel to do it anyway.

On Thursday, I watched the storytellers, I felt the crowd around me respond, and I joked with my coworker that I would probably have to go to fifty story slams and take detailed mental notes about what not to do before I could work up the courage to do it myself. But I don't think that's how it will play out. I think 'working up to it' is sometimes a crafty way of 'letting yourself off the hook.' The next slam is on July 2nd, and the topic is Freedom. If I can think of a story to tell on that theme (it must be true, it must be mine), then I will take myself there and put my name in the hat. And then we'll see what happens.