When most of us enter a party or a social event, the introductions are fun. The casual, "Hey, how you been?" or "How's work going?" are all part of the obligatory social scene, that we humans participate in, but, most of us want to get down to the nitty gritty. Get the party rolling. A dinner party? Where's the food? A cocktail party? Let's break out the margaritas! A birthday party? Chocolate cake for me please! A dance party? Let's bust a move! But for me, a girl who loves getting down to the nitty gritty with margaritas, cake and dancing as much as the next girl, this night, it was all about the beginning, the introduction.
For those who don't see it as clearly as me, it's kind of like reading a good book, you remember the gist of the story, the bits and pieces that stood out in your mind, and chances are you also remember how the story ended, but, very rarely do we remember the introduction. After all, the introduction is a brief few pages that sets the story and leads you to where all the good stuff is found, to the nitty gritty. On this night though, the way Ryan set the stage in the intro was the most glorious part of the story for me.
The way he walked into the house, smiling and comfortable, his hair still damp from the shower he timed perfectly in order to attend the gathering. The way he greeted people with a genuine smile, deliberate eye contact and happily, loudly, shouted "good!" or "great!" when they asked how he was doing. The way he lingered around the kitchen island looking and feeling like he belonged rather than shooting off to a room to escape the intro and be alone. The way he stood...confident and welcoming rather than awkward and distant. The way he made himself feel at home, whipping open the refrigerator door and finding a spot, his spot, for the Sprite he brought along after taking off his shoes and placing them neatly in my friend's laundry room. It was the details of the beginning of this story that made me go to bed that night as contented and calm as if this story were a lullaby someone had soothingly sung to me as I snuggled deeply under the covers.
As with most stories, the introduction doesn't last long. After a few pages, the heart of the story, the nitty gritty begins. Ryan's intro didn't last long either, but, just like setting the stage for a good book, his intro set the stage, and the night, for me.
I watched him as he worked so hard to engage and try and keep up with the numerous conversations bouncing around the room. I watched his body visibly relax when people responded to him in the way he had hoped, thus making his response back easier. Then I watched as the conversations around the island became more personal than generalized. I brought up school work in an attempt to drag out the introduction for another page or two and as I did, I could see his eyes darting from person to person, not sure of what to say or do next. I could see the introduction fading, the words starting to blur together and Ryan went with what was safer, what was easier, he asked me to heat up his pizza (that he also brought from home) and went and sat alone at the kitchen table, getting to the nitty gritty of his story.
Ryan quickly ate his dinner and moved into the living room with his laptop and his beloved Minecraft YouTubers. People who are safe. People who expect nothing from him. People whose facial expressions and body language do not come through their computer's microphone causing him to wonder their meaning. His introduction was swift, complete and perfect, however, the rest of the story, the nitty gritty, may be what folks remember most. Folks who did not witness the introduction in Ryan's prequels.
For those who don't know Ryan's story well, some may see the details of the differences only, like not wanting to eat with everyone else, or eating something different than the rest of the guests. They may remember that he sat in the living room playing Minecraft alone rather than playing board games with us at the dining room table. What sticks out in their memory may be his laughing out loud to his fellow YouTubers rather than enjoying the company and laughter of the other guests in attendance. They may remember the middle, the nitty gritty, and believe this is the gist of Ryan's story, but, not me. I know that no matter how quickly the introduction ended, how few pages it took to set the scene, I know the introduction was an incredibly powerful few pages that told a lot.
This is because in Ryan's world, the introduction may be the toughest part of the story. And as his mom, I know in the previous stories, the prequels, Ryan's introduction, did not read anything like his most recent story.
You see, once upon a time, Ryan's introduction did not exist. There was no introduction. There was no greeting, no hugs, no welcome, and certainly no small talk. There was no confidence, no comfort level, no desire to even try and be part of the group for even a minute. There was only him and his desire to survive, get through and get home...where he was safe. He never set the stage to allow people to get to the nitty gritty of his story and well, without an introduction, most people closed the book and walked away, leaving Ryan's story untold.
As a mother who has always known there was so much more to this book than just the beautiful cover, I have longed to turn the pages and tell his story for him, and I guess in some ways I have. However, as pleasant as it would be to drive down the highway listening to Julia Roberts read Pride and Prejudice via audio book (Yes, I just compared myself to Julia Roberts. My blog. My audio voice selection), wouldn't the story be so much better if Jane Austen could tell you the story herself? To really know and understand the story from Jane's point of view. To have Jane Austen, whose story it is to tell, be able to read the words as she felt them, to hear her voice explain the words as she believed the characters lived them.
I believe Ryan is starting to tell his own story, using his words, finding his voice. It may not have the details that my stories have and the stories will most assuredly be less wordy (some of you are jumping for joy), but, the words will be HIS and they will be words he fought long and hard to find and share in order to tell his story. The words, no doubt, will be powerful and worth the read, especially if you continue to read past the brief introduction.
The introduction may not stick with you like it does me, but, remember how important the intro is and how much effort goes into those few pages in order to set the scene for the entire story. Keep in mind how many attempts have been made to start the story only to scrap it altogether because the words got jumbled or lost and didn't make sense to him or the reader. The introduction may not be the most telling part of the story to you, but, telling it at all, is the nitty gritty to him. I promise you, the intro will eventually get you to the gist of Ryan's story, so, don't close the book too soon because the ending is going to blow you away.