My husband Stretch and I arrived in Tempe on January 2, 1991. During the past 29 years in Arizona, I have been a traffic engineering technician, and an unpublished novelist. I have hung out in the back of various local ‘cello sections and have been both a community college student and an adjunct instructor (at the same college). I have also become a storyteller.
As a storyteller, I have always been deeply interested in building the worlds of the stories I tell. It does not matter if I am working with one of my favorite Scandinavian folktales or the legends of Scotland during the Dark Ages, I want to understand the world of the story. And by understand, I mean more than knowing about the geography. I want to know how the people who lived in that world lived there. From that information I can build the world of the story – and that’s something that deeply interests me.
Building a world requires research – and research is always fun – but it also requires having a world. By leaving Tempe, which will happen in January of 2020 when Stretch and I return to New Mexico, I am returning to the world that is most truly mine.
If you look at the top of the NM license plate you'll notice the words "Land of Enchantment." Those of us who have left New Mexico tend to describe the place as the “Land of EnTRAPment,” instead of Enchantment. This is not meant in a bad way. There’s a pull, there’s always a pull, because nowhere else is quite the same, no matter what happens. As I prepare to return, and as I actually survive the practical aspects of the move (it is all so much more complicated than it was 29 years ago), I will be exploring the way the world that will again be mine connects with the world I build in stories.
In my next post, I will start with a story I worked on with Joe Hayes in his workshop at the NSN conference in Phoenix a number of years ago. It’s a folktale from Northern New Mexico which I have combined with a personal story.
Harriet has told stories at the Phoenix Fringe and at the Gila Bend Shrimp Festivals. She’s taken part in the AZStorytellers Project and in StoryRise events. As an instructor at the South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute, she has performed in many events including the La Lloronathon and a number of Myth Informed concerts.