Guest Post: When plans go to shit, create a story

I started a Party of One journey years ago, and while it’s changed in structure, I still wholeheartedly stand behind the thought that interacting with life as a party of one is a valuable and insightful way to go about your business. So not only do I continue to solo it, I encourage others to do so as well. And sometimes take advantage of my positions of power (ha!) and force people to do so. A la my current storytelling babies.

I gave the assignment of going to a storytelling show by themselves and then writing a personal narrative about the experience. The resulting shares were so fun to hear. I offered up the Mac & Cheese blog as a way to share the goodness with the Cheese-It network at large as I know many of you are up for challenging yourselves, participating in life rather than sitting on the sidelines, and hearing Life of Yes℠ nuggets.

Below is from storytelling baby Kathleen Mesterharm. Her ending had us all “Awwwwwww!” And though she “failed” at the assignment, she totally succeeded at the assignment. A+, Kathleen.

If you’d like to read other posts on the party of one topic, both from me and from others, head to the main blog page and do a category search for “Party of One “posts. If you can swing it, I highly recommend a Party of One trip to Mexico.

Sunday night the fog was – as they say – thick as pea soup, and I had a ticket to see a storytelling show at Lifeline Theater.  I’d googled it, and it would be roughly a thirty-eight minute drive from my home.  I decided I would multitask, packed a change of clothes and all my shower necessities, and headed to the gym before driving up to Rogers Park several hours early.  I planned to find a cozy coffee shop, snuggle up with a dark roast and four stacks of AP Lit essays, and wile away the day grading while I waited for show time.

As I weaved my way up Lakeshore drive, the fog thickened, but I convinced myself I wasn’t worried.  I’m a seasoned city driver.  I followed the yellow brick road of LSD to its end and made my way along Sheridan road eyeing nearby buildings for possible café’s or coffee shops.  I settled on Metropolis coffee, easily found street parking, and went in to purchase a delicious cup of coffee and a vegan butternut squash pastry-thing.  I sat, graded, listened to the chatter of undergrads around me, and left at 5:00 to head to the 5:30 show.  My map app said it would take me seven minutes to get to the theater.  It did. But I made one grave error in judgment.  I had failed to read the email that detailed directions for parking and counted on the Chicago parking gods to smile down on me.  They usually do, but I got cocky.  Not only were they not smiling, I am certain they were laughing at me as I circled for minutes, and then tens of minutes, looking for parking – watching my clock tick closer to the start time of the show as I hunted for a spot, peering through the mist and fog, turning corner after corner in ever widening circles around the theater. 

As the clock turned to 5:30, I experienced that sense of relief that comes from knowing you are already late and there is nothing you can do.  You can stop rushing because you’ve already committed a faux pas.  The show has started, and you are not in your seat.  But this was my assignment! And I bought my ticket! And I drove to Rogers Park on a Sunday night! I decided to find a spot and go in, no matter how late I was.  If I couldn’t get to my seat, so be it.  If I didn’t have a great time, I’d have a great story.

I turned right onto a side street I had not yet ventured down. Eureka! An empty space.  I parked, walk-jogged to the theater, and as I turned up the wooden ramp that led to the entrance, I found myself behind a woman rushing very much like myself. She held the door for me then hustled up to the box office. “I parked at the wrong theater,” she explained, “My friend is in the show, and I need to buy a ticket.”  The woman behind the counter answered, “I’m sorry, but the show is entirely sold out.” The late woman was visibly crestfallen. The box office employee tapped away at her computer “Well…let me check if there is a ticket on hold for you.” Ten seconds ticked by, then twenty, then thirty, until it felt like whole minutes had passed. “No, I’m sorry, there aren’t any more tickets under her name,” she finally answered.  As I listened to this exchange, the seconds ticking by, I knew what I was going to do.

“This may sound strange,” I said to the late woman, “but I have a ticket to the show.  I’m in a storytelling class, and it’s our assignment to see a show. Would you like my ticket?” Both the late woman and the employee looked at me, startled.  “Are you serious?” the late woman asked.  “Well, yes. Your friend is in the show,” I answered.  She rummaged in her purse, handed me ten dollars and wrapped me in a hug. Then she went back in her purse for her business card.  She is a founder and CEO of a company called Life Teaches, and the mission statement on the back read “created to empower and restore faith and hope in humanity in the spirit of people helping people to solve all the world’s problems…one problem at a time, one person at a time.”  She slipped the card in my hand and said, “look me up on Facebook!” as she was ushered into the theater.  Last Sunday night, I didn’t hear a story, but I made one of my own.

If you’d like to hear stories, and meet Kathleen!, in person, these storytelling babies will be sharing at the Life of Yes℠ Storytelling Showcase. Facebook Event. Everyone and anyone welcome.

What are your thoughts on going at life solo? Sound wonderful? Horrible? Your preferred path? Something you’d never do? What’s been your experience? Share in the comments.

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