He comes onstage smiling, and he begins by thanking everybody. He thanks the Twenty Sided Store who hosts us, Chris Kreuter for Emceeing us, the audience, everyone.
It is as if the story he is about to tell is his home, and he is set on becoming the host of that small but infinite space. By taking the stage, by expressing his gratitude, he opens his door and ushers us all in.
There is, on his face, an expression of almost beatific sweetness.
It is a smile that hovers over him like a halo. It never quite leaves his face, even during the direst and darkest of passages, but takes on a curve of bitterness here, a pang of helplessness there, shades of rage, or hunger, or desire. Throughout, the glow of that smile lingers at his cheekbones, illumines his eyes.
It always begins and ends with gratitude, with him. As if it weren’t our honor just to be in his presence, listening to him read. And such stories!
Anyway, I have a lot to learn from him. Not least of which, to remember that we must take nothing for granted. This time, this attention, this space, this place, these people. To express our warmest and most genuine welcome in gratitude, to open the door into our stories with joyful grace.