There is always one. One in every crowd. In every friend group. In every circle. One person, man or woman, that has experienced more, done more and even seen more than everyone else. Sometimes I realize that person is me.
Because I enjoy sharing stories, I find that I am also the one that has more stories to tell. I find the oddities of life so very spell bounding. A trip to Walgreen's and a conversation overheard can turn into an amazing tale that I feel compelled to share with others. In doing so, people will tell me that I have such an interesting life. My life is not more interesting than anyone else's. I just talk more. I share more. I review what I have seen, what I have heard and conversations I have entered over and over in my head. I evaluate word choices, body language, facial expressions and behavior. I remember more about what I see than what I hear. So my eyes tend to be my memory keeper. I will sometimes have complete conversations with other people and walk away not remembering one word that was spoken. But I will remember the color of someone's eyes. I will remember the color of their hair when they tuck it unconsciously behind their ear. I will remember the distant look in their eye when a person brings up how much these miss a dearly departed loved one. I will remember the unconscious way they touched my arm numerous times as we parted ways. But what words have been exchanged? I haven't a clue.
Then there are also the conversations that I can't forget.
"Kelli, I never wanted to have children. I only did it to make my husband happy. He always wanted kids. And look here I am 4 kids later..."
"My mother-in-law never wanted me to marry her son. Her baby. I think she loves him more than she loves her husband."
"I wonder when things will get any easier. I am guessing this is as good as it gets. I think I will just quit my job and tell my husband I was fired. I don't think I can work there another day."
"I hate my son so much. He is the biggest jerk. He make me want to hit him most days."
"I seem like the happiest person in the world. Or at least that is what everyone thinks. I don't think I will be happy ever again. "
"I never loved her. I liked having her around because she always took care of everything. But love? No. I don't think I have ever been in love. Maybe it is too late for me."
My mother joked with me when I was growing up, that the reason why people talked to me so much was because I greeted everyone with a warm smile. Now keep in mind, it was my mother who talked to everyone she knew and also everyone she didn't know. But just because people talked to her doesn't mean that shared anything of importance with her. They talked about the weather, children and other things they obviously had in common with each other. People talk to me about challenging things, heartbreaking life changing events. They pour out their life to me and it appears they have been waiting to do so for quite some time. So much information escapes from them a such a quick rate, it appears as if a dam has broken. And when this happens, I am often fascinated, sometimes intimated.
With all this story telling going on, you would think that I was encouraging it. As my mom said, sometimes, only a warm smile is extended, and then the story telling commences. Some of the things that have been shared with me, have never then been shared with another. The stories that I retell are usually ones where I feel like I have been changed somehow just by hearing them. I feel as if they have made me think about my own life, revise the way I do something or make me want to change the way I relate to someone. This is example of how personal story telling can directly influence someone else.
Then there are the times when a someone shares a story with me and I feel the need to flee. Too much information, so much pain. Tears shed, even sobs have begin to overtake the storyteller. I become uncomfortable at these types of displays and want nothing other than to walk away. It is too much for me take in. Not because I am a stranger to emotion, but because, lest I remind you, they are strangers.
So when someone starts a story and my eyes get as big as dinner plates, it isn't that I can't believe what I am hearing. It is because I have seen some stuff, heard even more. And those unsolicited stories that have been shared with me have prepared me for just about anything else that I have yet to hear. Almost. Once in awhile, I am caught off guard. And I am sure it will happen again. My friend told me I should stop smiling altogether. To ward off any uncomfortable story telling ventures. I can't. My smile will find a way to show itself no matter what. So bring it on. Give it your best shot. Shock me. Make me want to flee. Just keep the stories coming.