Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Your Gut Can Tell You Amazing Things When It's Not Hungry

Going with my gut was sort of the theme of my existence yesterday. There is a rather pressing decision on my current horizon of whether or not I should join my family in the Bahamas. Of course I want to go, but money is an issue, plus, I am still trying desperately to stay put, get a job, and be normal. My very understanding and intuitive flat mate, who would be joining me on this excursion, told me to simply, 'follow your gut...what does it tell you?'
I meditated on those words all day, and began wondering how they might apply in my super open-ended and commitment-less life right now. Those words spurred me to wander into the local travel store, Flight 101, and apply for a job; something I have been doing very frequently since my arrival in SF three weeks ago. These hopeful applications have led me nowhere. However, these half-hearted inquisitions about a job lead me to an interview on Monday!
Then Molly and Michael were going to attend a story-telling session that evening called Porchlight. Again, I wanted to go, but felt incredibly guilty spending the twelve bucks on my enjoyment and entertainment. It did not ease my conscience when Molly equated it to a movie...something I love, but have been restricting to the walls of my flat because I cannot rationalize paying so much for the ticket. I had been pondering my attendance of Porchlight all day and something kept nudging me toward it, I just had a feeling that it was an important event to attend. Finally, I threw caution to the wind, and decided to go.
Molly and Michael paid at the door, and I dug out my last twelve dollars, flattened out the crinkles, and handed them over for a measly tiny red stamp. But then, just as I surrendered my money a round, jolly Hispanic man with trendy Ray-Ban type glasses piped in and said, 'take your money back. I have donated two tickets that have not been used yet. You take one.' I danced as I received my free stamp and grabbed this stranger's shoulder thanking him profusely. He did not seem very phased by my gratitude, but my gut was on a roll.
Once I got in for free I could not shake this feeling that it was not over. The program began and the announcer women said, 'Who has never been to Porchlight before?' I raised my hand. She continued, 'Ok, be sure to put your name in the hat at the break and you could be chosen to present a three minute story.' My stomach grew wings and fluttered into my throat, bumping into my heart along the way. I knew this was why my gut was still tugging at me. As Derrick Brown took the stage I began milling over what story I could share about Reinvention: Stories of the New Me, which was the theme of the night. Luckily Mr. Brown was a hilarious and charismatic speaker, otherwise my mind would have been wrapped up in my own stories and I would have basically missed the show.
After two more stories the break came. I took myself into the lobby and hesitantly searched for The Hat. I found the announcer lady and put our names in. I noticed there wasn't actually a hat in the vicinity, and she did not ask for our last names which lead me to believe the odds were pretty good, or bad, depending on how you look at it. I resumed my seat on the floor and Molly and I discussed which story we would tell if given the chance. My choice was not extremely relevant to the topic, but a hilarious bit about loosing our dingy in the Bahamian Islands. At this point I had no idea what to expect...my gut had told me to get my name in, and I was excited to tell a story, but nervous as hell because there were some important literary faces in the crowd, including Kelly Beardsley who has been on NPR's This American Life. I sipped my Negro Modelo while the ladies introduced the second half. Then the moment of truth arrived...she shoved her hand into a long thin box and pulled out a tiny white sheet of paper, stepped to the microphone and said, 'Megan'. I sprang up, took off my hoodie and scarf, grabbed my beer and marched up to the stage. The adrenaline was bubbling up into my eyes and I don't remember seeing the ladies when I got up there, or the audience. I bent down, place my beer on the floor among the black cords, stood up and uttered, 'You gotta be fucking kidding me.' I think that got a laugh out of the crowd. Next I thanked Joe, the stranger, for the free entrance, but I think he had left.
I launched into my story by saying, 'My friend Molly's birthday is today, so I'm going to tell a story about us. Once upon a time we were living on a boat in the Bahamian Islands...' I tried to remember to breath as I spoke, and pause when I thought they might be laughing, and explain the details that mattered. I remember constantly looking over at Molly as I spoke trying to pretend we were just chatting over a beer. Eventually the adrenaline level lowered out of my eyes and I could see the crowd a little bit through the blinding lights. They looked like a big group of children with wide eyes and jaws hanging open. It was just this sea of eyeballs. That was the best part, when I could finally see the crowd, when it almost did feel like we were all sitting on a dimly lit porch just shootin' the shit. Then the piano began to chime in, which meant my time was up, and I concluded my story by saying, 'all they could see was my giant white ass!' I thanked the crowd, bowed as I retrieved my beer, and left the stage smiling. The hundred or so onlookers slapped their hands together, and I sat down realizing that I had little to no idea what I had just said.

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