Light the candle, Hidden Roots Storytelling CirclesLadies, it’s cold outside. But when we gather on a soft rug, with comfortable seats to rest our backs on, and strike the gong and light the candle, we relax and warm up.

And then it’s story time – your stories.

My mind is full of stories this season. This winter Rob and I have seen lots of theater. On Monday nights, we’ve been to Rattlestick Alumni Jams, where playwrights show us scenes from old plays and new ones, and then talk about writing. Over Martin Luther King Day weekend, we saw Fragile Explosion, a musical about the life of the great blues and jazz singer Nina Simone by Michael Monasterial, with two great actors playing Grown Nina and Little Nina, who grew up in Tryon, North Carolina, a town in Polk County, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just about 30 miles from Asheville, where I myself lived as Little Nina.

In 2018, I went back to Asheville for the first time in more than forty years, with my husband and children, to imagine myself at 6 and 7 years old. Rob and I wrote a song about it, called Asheville. Maybe I’ll tell that story … but no, no – one of our intentions at Hidden Roots is spontaneity! So I won’t be planning my stories. I won’t even think about how to answer the prompt until I’m holding the talking piece at the next circle on February 25.

At Hidden Roots, the stories we tell are not fiction; they are true; and we are not preparing to be playwrights – or politicians or comics or singers or actors or activists. We’re just sharing with each other and listening deeply in turn.

But I can promise that a night spent sitting in a storytelling circle is as rich and surprising and nourishing and cathartic as a night at the theater.

The next circle is Tuesday, February 25. Sign up here. Bring a friend. She’ll probably get a kick out of it. I hope to see you there!