Do you believe that one conversation can change your life? If ever I had doubted it, now I know for sure that it’s true. This is my new friend Melanie. We met to participate in a StoryCorps interview. She had been a nurse with AIDS patients for the over thirty years.
We met in Chicago to record this forty minute interview, having had only one brief phone conversation prior to the recording. Talking out loud, knowing it would be recorded and archived into the Library of Congress, was an action that felt risky emotionally. I was rewarded for my bravery by meeting Melanie, a truly amazing woman.
StoryCorps is much bigger than a couple of minutes every week on air on NPR, it’s a non-profit agency that has collected more than 60,000 interviews since it’s inception in 2003. All of the recordings start out as forty-minute conversations between two people – like me and Melanie. All conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for future generations, boasting the largest collection of human voices ever gathered. It’s powerful stuff. Do yourself a favor and listen to some of the featured stories at storycorps.org.
Talking about the experience I lived through with my dad’s illness and death from AIDS was a healing and cathartic experience. Hearing Melanie’s commitment to the disease is inspirational, helping me to be more public and brave with my story. But what was unexpected for me was the wisdom Melanie gave me about the impending death of a cherished friend. I wrote a post about the one of kind Sandra Moran and some outlines of our friendship. Her sudden illness and death has unraveled me. I hadn’t planned on talking about Sandy with Melanie, but I did. The conversation was recorded a week before Sandy died and Melanie’s words buried so deep within me that I was able to tell Sandy both thank you and goodbye in a deliberate way, with all the love available to me. What a gift Melanie gave me.
Recently I asked my daughter Emma to use the navigation on her phone for directions to a new friend’s house. When they started, turn right on Delaware street, a male voice with an accent (English?)spoke. It was awesome and hilarious. While I’ve listened to this interview with Melanie several times and feel privileged to share it, I would love to have a button where I could give myself an exotic accent. Do I really sound like that?
I’ve never shared an audio file, I hope this works! The interview lasts about thirty-eight minutes. I hope that in the same way that Melanie’s words affected me, that you too will experience some StoryCorps magic for yourself.
Link to listen to interview.