“It's actually Horvath, but having your Polish last name properly pronounced is, you know, kind of low on the list of priorities.” Season 5, Episode 10 of Girls. Hannah does The Moth.
When I watched Hannah Horvath tell a story at The Moth in Season 5, Episode 10 of Girls, I knew I wanted to do it, too.
I am a theater kid at heart and I took the stage many times in high school and I loved it. My favorite performances were the ones where I wrote and performed in the stories. There was a one-act play that I wrote about what goes on in the teacher’s lounge. As well as a monologue that I wrote about a feminist who refused to shave her underarms and had taken over the PA system at the local Walmart.
Last December, I went to a curated evening of Moth stories with Jenn in Portland. The performers were moving, funny and inspiring. That night I set my goal for 2019 to take the stage.
I wasn’t sure which stage I would take or when. I did know that I wanted Jenn to be there and I wanted it to be a Moth StorySlam. I set my intention and sent it off into the Universe.
In March, Jenn texted me asking if I would want to come to Portland the first weekend of June to see her favorite band Rainbow Kitten Surprise play two nights. Yes, absolutely. I got the time off work and then had the idea to check the Moth schedule in Portland. Bingo! June 3 at The Secret Society.
I started practicing my story and organizing my thoughts and story arc and making sure it fit the night’s theme of “chemistry.” I was having a bit of a hard time deciding on the ending but I was confident that it would come to me.
One of the reasons that I wanted to do this is because the people I adore most in my life have been the ones who tell stories that have me hanging on every word. When I was a kid, my Uncle Ralph would tell stories at our dining room table or around the fire at his camp in Bloomingdale and I was enthralled. It was the way he lived the joy of his stories and laughed deeply from his soul and I could feel what he was feeling as his stories played out.
I also have a theory that some of the best storytellers are from Kentucky. My dear friend and Kentucky native, Dan, tells the most phenomenal stories. We used to work together and I would do anything to bait him into talking to me and telling me a story.
Then there is Penny. My fauxom and as I call her “the arbiter of lost souls.” She’s also from Kentucky and reminds me of Uncle Ralph and Dan combined. She will tell these wild stories and be laughing so hard that tears are streaming from her eyes.
These three people are my storytelling idols. For a long time I have wanted to be like them and make people feel how they make me feel when I listen to their stories: alive and inspired to go out and live more adventures.
On June 3, Jenn and I went hiking and I was nervous. I was rolling my story around in my mind but more so I was nervous about the prospect of not being selected to go on stage. The Moth is done by lottery and there are only 10 spots, so there is no guarantee you will be chosen. And I was still wondering how would I end my story. What would be the thing that wraps it all up? After two months of working on this story, I was still not sure.
We got to the venue that evening and stood in line waiting to get in. I was so excited that I signed the registration paper without reading any of the fine print. I peppered the man registering people with questions and then I went to talk to my friend Dale and settle my nerves.
Then it was show time. The first half of the evening had five storytellers. None of them were me and I was just sitting there trying to be present with them but also praying that each name drawn from the plastic jack-o’-lantern would be mine.
At intermission, I looked at Jenn and said, “I have to give up or this will never happen.” This is the secret to manifesting what you want: give up.
Intermission ended and the MC drew a paper from the pumpkin and read, “Holly.... (insert LONG PAUSE where I know it’s me because my last name is often mispronounced).” He mispronounced my Polish last name and I stood up laughing to myself remembering that episode of Girls.
I took the stage and looked out into the audience and I felt like I was home. The stage lights were on and I could see Jenn and my friends in the second row and it was go time. I had the audience laughing about my life experiences and the comedic characters I had met one night in Downtown San Diego.
Now, I’m not going to tell the full story here, that’s for me and my closest 200 friends in Portland to share. However, I will say that my favorite part of the story became the ending that I had figured out just a couple hours beforehand.
What I will tell you is this: At the end of my story I told them that I asked for a sign from the Universe that someone I care about is safe. And when I told them the sign that the Universe sent me just five minutes after I asked, the gasps and reaction was audible and I knew I had told a story that had them hanging on my every word.
There’s so much more I want to say about this event but I am still sorting through it myself. I am so proud of myself for accomplishing this major goal of mine. And for telling the Universe that this is what I want to be doing. I want to be onstage telling funny, heart-felt stories to my closest friends and bring us all back together around the proverbial campfire.
As I was writing this post, I realized that my Uncle Ralph died on June 1, 2003. It was June 3 that I was onstage telling my story and sharing the gift that he gave me so many times. Thank you, Uncle Ralph for getting me on that stage.