My mother wrote in my baby book, "Now that you are two, you like to bathe yourself in the toilet so we have to watch you closely. You also like to eat ashes, put cigarettes in mouth, and drink perfume." A few pages later in a more relaxed, feathery writing she records that at three I had settled down, "Seems to me you will be a regular bookworm. You like every kind of book you can find. You pack them in a suitcase and read them all quietly under the fig tree. You read in bed too."
I still do.
When I was old enough to climb our sprawling fig tree I would cradle in its branches, read and borrow bits and pieces of overheard conversation and drama to add to my characters and stories. Those stories were unleashed in the dark to my siblings who listened to every syllable from the two sets of bunkbeds we shared. When my father passed along his old reel to reel tape machine to my older brother, we began recording my stories complete with home made sound effects which we turned into plays. Later I honed my storytelling skills on my elementary students and friends. I fell in love with my husband twenty years ago when he would frequently ask me to tell him a story.
My favorite part of the day is when my family sits around after a meal and trades stories. I am a proud mother of two sons who know how to say please and thank you, but best of all, they know how to tell a good story.
Now, let me tell you a story -- Stretch Marks -- about Ciudad Juárez where marauding gypsies, drug dealers, and a labyrinthine bureaucracy threatened to prevent us from adopting our sons.
And about Octotillo, Arizona where a Greek and Mexican family created Guacamole with Feta Cheese and a few scandals as well. Or start with La Pipa and remember the joys of a good summer time soak.