tall tales, blazing suns
by tobias crabtree
tellin’ stories is in my blood. i don’t always do it mostly because i can be moody, but i can spin a pretty good yarn when the timing’s right. my dad is a story teller; all good teachers are. and he doesn’t just stand and tell a story, he brings it. the ol’ man has always been good at snatching up the attention when he needs to. he’s an old circus performer. i’ve seen him climb to the top of a 15 foot ladder in his cowboy boots and press into a perfect handstand, talking all the while. i’ve seen him take his boots off and run up the aisle of the church at a dead sprint. he’s a showman and he’s got a real nice second tenor voice that’ll make you smile when he breaks into a song. he’s choctaw indian (he still says “indian” like my grampa did…i think it’s native american now but, well, whatever.). he loves boxing and wrestling and, at five foot three inches, he’ll surprise you with his strength. i love him, i just don’t follow him completely. we track a little differently. i look to the stars and the swaying redwoods. he looks to god. but really, what’s the difference? if you find out for sure, let me know.
when i was little i told stories about monsters. i made them up as i went along. i remember the high school fellas begging me for a new story. i was only 4 or 5 years old. i loved it. when i got a little older i went on a stint where i lied about things in order to make the story better. mark twain would have been proud. now, older yet, i’ve witnessed enough to know that real life is crazy as it is, i can lay the lies to the side; they dull the beauty of the mystery of the truth. the magic is out there among us. the only tragedy is not paying attention…i guess a faulty memory is a bummer as well. i do pay attention, mostly. i don’t know how good my memory is and, if i did, i’d probably forget.
and what are memories anyway? sparkling lights in the fog of forgetfulness. we wrestle with time in order to maintain clarity. stories are the wonderful by-product of this magical existence.
a story is the feel of the bike as your dad pushes you down the street yelling, “pedal! pedal!”
a story is the shape of your grampa in the casket, his lips too white, his hair too combed.
a story is inner tubes and cousins in the irrigation ditch in montana in august.
a story is a mother who just lost her mother. it is her son, too young to understand that kind of finality, asking what’s the matter.
a story is an awkward kiss on the lips and the clumsy groping hands of youth. it is a broken airplane in the barn on ohio street. it is watching mr. davidson extract his own tooth with pliers. it is crying at a duck’s broken wing, broken because you shot it with a sling shot and didn’t think you would hit it but you did hit it, you did. it is making out in another language. it is a cold night under a poncho with your buddy waiting for the instructor to tell you to go get in the ocean…again. it is making fire by hand with a sotol stem. it is improv dancing with a 5 year old while her parents are out on a valentine’s date.
stories are everywhere waiting for us to dress them up with words so they can skitter and twirl in the limelight. we must be choosy with our fanciness. not too flashy, you know? just enough to capture the magic of what is real. allow the tales to grow on their own (they will, they surely will) and watch as your memories dance all around you. after all, we are here for this limited time. here for the living. and the star strewn skies. and the blazing suns.