Michael (see also February 4) loves telling stories – from the one about his compassionate 3rd teacher who encouraged his dyslexic younger self to keep trying even though he was getting poor grades, to the one about finding a Mark Twain manuscript in a yard sale. He has written some of his stories down over the years but his most remarkable storytelling has been done with a camera, spending decades as a photographer for Time magazine and other major publications. A successful documentary photograph captures the essence of a story in a single frame, and many of Michael’s stories have done just this, from the iconic 1979 Time cover photo of Robin Williams to heart-rending images of LA’s homeless community on Skid Row.
Michael’s love of storytelling led him to a café in Burbank several years ago where like-minded folks gather to share their stories. It was there that he met Amy (see January 25 and March 27), to whom he was instantly attracted. She was married at that time but that relationship was on the rocks. They became friends, sharing their love of stories, music and art, and growing increasingly close. When Amy finally ended her troubled marriage, she and Michael started to date. When I met them, they were a couple and were planning to get married, but, according to Michael, only when Amy and her daughter Melodie were ready. A couple of years ago, the girls were ready and they jointly proposed to Michael. He of course said yes. The wedding was in a bowling alley, which was a story in itself!
One thing I have noticed over the years is that storytellers seem to have more interesting lives. Everything they do, or see or feel, and everyone they meet has the potential to be woven into a colorful tale, transformed into a fascinating scene or extraordinary detail. They also have a way of creating story-worthy moments, like a wedding in a bowling alley. I have been working on this skill myself this year as I endeavor to weave stories out of little moments of giving, and I’m finding that the stories are all out there if you look for them. This morning, I decided to give my storyteller friend Michael some stories I enjoyed years ago, just after our son Theo was born. My husband David gave me a set of three NPR Driveway Moments CDs, which I listened to while nursing Theo. Some of the stories were so moving, I would sit in my chair sobbing. Of course, my hormones may also have had something to to with the flood of emotion. I gave the CDs to Michael. Every week, he travels back and forth across town to look after his mother. I imagine the stories will serve him as ideal companions on the road.