Photo courtesy of StoryCorps
I don't really spend much time in my car alone. Usually I'm schlepping the kids back and forth from school or one of our other various activities. Or it's the weekend and the whole fam-damily is in the car. So when I find myself alone in the car, I automatically tune into NPR. I can give it my full attention, soaking in the news and interviews without having to listen to anyone beg me to change it to Sirius Hits One.
My absolute favorite thing to listen to on NPR is the weekly StoryCorps broadcast. Every Friday morning, during Morning Edition, they play a short clip of a conversation between two people. Maybe they're family, maybe they're friends, but they're always fascinating. As one person interviews another, the most amazing stories come out. I usually end up laughing hysterically or bawling my eyes out. Apologies to the people who glance in my car on Friday mornings. I must look like I could use some serious therapy.
Earlier this year, Conner Prairie posted on their Facebook page that they were looking for people to record interviews for StoryCorps. This was a dream come true for me – permanent StoryBooth locations (a soundproof recording studio) are only located in New York City, San Fransisco, and Atlanta. They have a MobileBooth that travels around the country recording stories, but I've never known it to come anywhere near Indianapolis.
I've dreamed of interviewing my mom for StoryCorps. She claims her story isn't exciting or interesting, but I think it's anything but boring. I've always wondered what it must have been like, leaving the only home she'd ever known in Spain, leaving her family far behind, to come here with my dad.
I was thrilled to be chosen as one of the nine pairs of people who were invited to have an interview recorded with StoryCorps. My mom and I showed up to Conner Prairie on a cold and rainy Tuesday morning and spent 40 minutes talking about what it was like growing up in Civil War and Franco-era Spain. We talked about how she met my dad, how her parents felt about her marrying an American from the local base (she was the first girl in her town to do so!), what it was like to hear of her father's untimely passing by phone – and not to be able to get back home to pay her respects for weeks. In short, it was one of the most treasured experiences of my life.
It's funny, we see each other weekly, and talk to each other every couple of days. In all this time, you'd think these are the things you'd know. Instead, we pass the time talking about everything but life stories. It's really inspired me to find out more about those I love.
At the end of our session, we were given a broadcast-quality recording of our interview on a CD. I've already discovered Elena listening to the CD in her room, gazing up at the ceiling and thinking about her abuela as a young girl. A second copy of our recording will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (right next to an archive of all my tweets, perhaps?!).
I plan to write about certain parts of our interview in more detail here in the upcoming months. A Maria series, if you will. I hope you'll find it as fascinating as I do. In the meantime, go find someone you love and ask them to tell you their story. You won't regret it.