Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Story--Brenda, Rachel & the Exchanged Glance in the Woods

My mom said that I was a storyteller as soon as I opened my mouth. What she doesn't know are the number of stories I keep to myself. If Schank knew how many stories I kept inside, he would shake his head and say "Talking is remembering" (p. 115).

At certain moments I can be creative and play impromptu storytelling games whenever I attend the National Youth Storytelling Showcase in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. With permission from parents, I lead games with the finalists until 1:00am or so. On the last night of the event, it has been tradition to be all-night so that we are the first ones to have breakfast.

Most of the time I like to listen and soak things in. Sometimes I soak so long that my memory gets shriveled like a prune.

Schank warned, "If we don't tell the story soon enough after the experience or often enough immediately after the experience or if we don't tell the story at all, the experience cannot be coalesced into a gist since its component pieces begin to mix with new information that continues to come in" (p. 115).

Every so often I tell the experiences to myself in my head or aloud though rarely to others. My kind of rehearsal is what Schank said, "One phenomenon of memory is that people talk to themselves, not necessarily aloud of course, but they do tell themselves stories, collecting disparate events into coherent wholes" (p. 117).

Even with the support from my husband for storytelling, deep down I have fears that if I tell too many stories to him, he will be storied out. Casey has shared stories with me--like when he proposed to me through a story--yet he claims he will only tell official stories once every seven years. (He still does not realize the great number of unofficial stories he tells.)

Due to my tendency to keep stories inside of me, I believe I have fewer indexes to jump to various gists and stories. You may have noticed in class my cloudy look when searching for a word or a story to continue conversations or exercises.

To break this trend, I will now share an experience that Brenda and I shared last Saturday, July 21st, which I call "Brenda, Rachel & the Exchanged Glance in the Woods"--

Brenda felt brave enough to go solely with a water bottle and sunglasses for the hike in the woods around ETSU. As for me, I brought my bag complete with book, paper, colored pencils, jacket, camera, batteries, water bottle, timer, cellphone, whistle--to name a few things. I would hate to be a few miles into the hike and think, "Hey, I want to sketch that bird up there" or "I've got to call Casey" or any number of random thoughts.

We twisted and turned along the trail. One hour. Two hours. Three hours. Every so often I stopped and took pictures of strange logs with unnatural faces or of enormous spiderwebs.

Then we saw it. A long thick vine dangled from a tall tree.

Now--have you ever been told as a child "do not touch"? We knew that someone, somewhere--whether our husbands or our parents--were shaking their fingers and saying "do not touch".

We had seen many vines that climbed up trees during the hike but none of them hung above the trail. To add to the temptation, the end of the vine came to about my waist.

Brenda and I exchanged glances. We knew what each other was thinking. We wore crooked smiles, knowing that this was our chance.

Then, like two good girls in Sunday clothes, we walked past the vine to continue our hike.

After a couple paces, I stopped. Throughout the hike I had dutifully carried my bag across my shoulders with all my safety devices. At this time, I threw down the bag and it thumped on the ground.

Brenda looked back, almost jealous that she had not made the first move. I quickly walked to the vine. I pulled on the it. Nothing happened. I pulled on it again. Nothing happened.

"I think this will hold!" I called to Brenda.

The vine was thicker than my arm and seemed lighter than what a branch the same thickness would weigh. As the end of the vine was to my waist, I jumped so that I could pull the vine between my legs and get a good grip on it. The vine only slipped. I tried again and again. I was never good at the high jump in middle school and I saw there was no improvement as a 27-year-old.

I decided to give one last try. I jumped and caught the vine between my legs. I pushed off with my feet from the tree so that I could swing. Brenda rushed to my bag and took some pictures as I swung for a good length of time.

I smiled for the camera.

"Brenda, how about you give it a try?"

Brenda hesitated for a moment. She knew she was at least a decade older than me, but did that matter? She smiled and I knew she wanted to swing.

She then asked, "You do have your cellphone in case something happens, right?"

"Right--but you'll be fine."

Brenda and I are about the same height and though I guessed that I was lighter than her, I didn't see too much difference in our weight.

Brenda, too, tugged on the vine to see how well it held to the tree. Satisfied, Brenda jumped to get the vine between her legs. She had troubles, too. Finally, Brenda caught onto the vine. She swung a bit and I grabbed the camera as she had done for me.


The world was brought to slow motion. Brenda and I looked up as the vine broke about as long as a three-story apartment complex towards the trail. Brenda's arms raised high above her head and then dropped backwards followed by her head, chest, and legs. The vine fell in the same direction.


I nervously smiled.

"Are you okay, Brenda?"

She smiled and laughed.

"I told you something was going to happen."

When I looked back at the camera, I saw that a picture was taken, but that the camera had also run out of batteries.

So if you want proof of this story, you will have to believe Brenda and I.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
(801) 870-5799


saundra said...

. . . and when I read the part about the thick vine, my mind immediately translated it to 'Nagini' Voldemort's snake in the Harry Potter series.
Brave women you are.

Barnabus said...

It's a good personal story. When the vine broke, I recall a similar incident that happened to me when I was a young boy being taught to swim in the Warrior River. No bossy parents were there. An older boy, my 16 year old Uncle Johnny, and his buddies Curtis and Crow, were having fun and teaching a kid at the same time. When I fell it was into a river and Uncle Johnny swam out to make sure I did not sink. We told my grandpaw and grandmaw, who Johnny lived with and I was staying a a summer week with, only that I could now swim.
Thanks for the memories.

Maustales said...

Ah-h-h Rachel is to kind. I am almost 2 decades older than she is.... way to old to be swinging from vines, If you don't know that the mind is sometimes willing, but the body doesn't co-operate any more, someday you will. It was a great afternoon as you might imagine if you envision 1 person from a desert and 1 person from the prairies entering a wooded area. I don't think we missed a thing and found wonder and enjoyment in everything we saw. Yes, even those vines. It was a temptation worth every bruise! AND our story ...Our Day in the ETSU Woods has brought laughter to everyone who hears it...whether it is Rachel's version or mine....