I knew that there would be something that would make The National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee unlike anything I had ever seen before by the way my storyteller friends would get all dreamy and tongue-tied when I told them I was going to be a featured teller there.
“Jonesborough.” They would say the word as if when spoken it released a euphoria serum into their brains. And then these people, who have dedicated their lives to verbal communication, would become uncharacteristically inarticulate. “Don, you’re going to love it there.” Yes, I would reply. Everyone says that. But as I would stand before them awaiting elaboration they would walk away in some sort of intoxicated dream state without telling me why.
Looking back, I think the best way to communicate the effects of this event on the uninitiated is through what it did to my wife. My wife is cool. I knew it when I met her in tenth grade. She dressed cool. Her musical tastes were cooler than everyone else. After high school we hitch hiked around North America for three years seeking out the most interesting little groups of non-conformists the continent had to offer. If something is fake or artistically insincere she sees it right away and has no patience for it and no desire to spend an extra minute in the presence of it. She has the most finely calibrated BS meter of anyone I ever met. Continue reading