Last night, I once again put my name in the canvas bag and waited for said name to be called. Was this lottery for a pile of cash, a new car or American citizenship? Nope. Something better - a chance to get up on the Moth Houston stage at Warehouse Live and tell a story. Okay, so maybe those other things may be deemed more valuable by most people (and me) but I also find incredible value in the empowerment and freedom I find in sharing my stories, telling my tales and expressing myself in front of a crowd of strangers. The Moth Live events let me do just that and I love it!
Sadly, last night there were thirty names up for grabs and I wasn't one of the ten storytellers selected. So, I thought I'd share my story here on my blog instead. The theme for the night was Fathers. Note that there is a five minute time limit, so there are details to this story left out or modified slightly to fit the tale into that time frame. Those who know the story might find this a little off-putting but the crux of the legend is the same. Integrity in tact. Also, there are word choices used in this written version that would have been more "acted out" than said. Again, the point is the same though. Enjoy and know that this story or some version thereof will likely be included in the upcoming memoir I'm writing with my sister, "One in Paris, One in Prison." :-)
For more info about The Moth radio hour, podcast or live events go to https://themoth.org/.
As the dust settled from my divorce and I picked up the pieces of my conflicted and broken heart, I decided that it was time for me to hop back on the train bound for Romance Town. So, I called up a long-time friend and asked if he'd like to go on a date. He said yes and we went to dinner. By far, one of the best first dates I'd ever been on!
After a few weeks of dating, I decided that I should call my baby sister, my redneck confidant in Kentucky, to tell her about my recent romantic exploits. Within the first few minutes of the conversation, Jen inquired about his name. To which I replied, "Langley."
To which she yelled, "Oh my god! My sister's dating an Oriental dude!" (or something close to that)
Completely confused, I said, "First off, what would it matter if he were of Asian descent? Secondly, what makes you think he's Asian? He's not."
"Well, damn, Jo. You said his name was Lang Lee."
"Jen, Langley like the air force base not Lang Lee like Bruce's brother."
Anyway, a few months go by and Lang Lee and I are getting pretty serious. So, I decide that it's time for him to officially meet my five year old daughter, Brenna. We go to his house and as we stand in the front hall, I chew my nails to nubs as they have a brief staring contest. Sizing each other up. I'm so nervous, especially for Langley who put a wall around his heart years ago to protect it from children. About twenty years prior, his son had been taken from him and the man I now loved had vowed then to never love another child that he could possibly lose. Yeah, these were really high stakes for him. This was big.
A few moments pass then finally, B approaches Lang, takes his hand and pulls him down to her level. Kneeling now, they're eye to eye. She says," Hi, I'm Brenna. You look pretty strong. Wanna build a fort with me?"
As tears begin to pour from my ducts, he responds, "Hi, I'm Langley and I'd love to build a fort with you." Whew! Mama is seriously relieved! My heart goes back to a normal rate and I inhale for the first time since we walked in the door.
Things went so well with the three of us that we were married a year later. A few days after the wedding, B comes to me and suggests that Langley needs a new name. A proper family title.
"What're you thinking," I asked.
"Well, you know how you sometimes call me Baby Bear and I call you Mama Bear? I think he should be Papa Bear."
Once again with salty-water gathering in the corners of my eyes, I gave my approval but told her that she'd have to ask him for the ultimate go ahead. She trotted off to the kitchen where Lang was preparing dinner.
"I need to talk to you."
As he scoops her up in his arms, "What's up, B?"
"I think you need a new, better name."
"Have you been talking to your Aunt Jenny? There's nothing wrong with my name!"
"No, I like Langley but I want to give you a special name. A name just for," she whispers the last word as she puts her little hands on his cheeks, "us."
From across the room, I watch the fortress around his heart start to crumble as he inquires, "Well, kiddo, what'd you have in mind?"
"Would you be our Papa Bear?"
Through blurry vision, I watch him hug her so tight to his chest and say, "Bbear, I would love to be your Papa Bear."
That was the day that my Langley became our Papa Bear. Thank you.