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Let's Talk Story

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Jun 09, 2011

Back in 8th grade, on a whim, I tried out—and landed—a role in the school play. When opening night rolled around, I forgot my lines and, worse, waved to my girlfriend Janet Markuson sitting in the front row. I broke character in the first scene of the first act after a week of dress rehearsals in which our drama teacher, Mr. McCloud, made faces, called out our names and performed any manor of antics as a way to steel us against interacting with the audience.

As soon as my hand went up and my fingers wriggled in response to Janet’s covert wave, I could have slapped myself. Now, I realize it was the intimate setting created by the bright lights focused on the stage that made me think there was no one watching our performance except Janet. I couldn’t see beyond the first row.

Sometimes, I feel like this blog is that 8th grade stage all over again. I write. I perform. Every now and then, I wave. But I have no idea who is out there. I have no idea if anyone is reading my words. If anyone is applauding. Booing. Or throwing tomatoes. Are you?

Let me take a page from Hawaiian tradition and introduce myself. I’ll give you an abbreviated version of my genealogy chant.

My family comes from the Midwest, outside St. Louis, Missouri, my father from Washington and my mother from Augusta, to be exact. All sides of the family hail from Germany. All were farmers. All hard-working, hardy stock. I believe my love of reading—and, hence, writing—comes from my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. Her father and her son were known to be voracious readers.

When my parents married, my father’s job took the family to Dallas, Texas, where I was born. Six weeks later, my parents, two brothers and I moved to a suburb of Chicago—an unincorporated area of Glen Ellyn. When I was entering the 8th grade, we packed up and moved to the western suburb of Batavia, and I tried out for Mr. McCloud’s play. I wish I could remember the name of it. But I do remember the orange-colored script, about the size of a thin paperback book. I adored it. Not enough to memorize my lines, though.

After graduating from Batavia High School, I entered the University of Missouri, some eight hours distant, in Columbia, and four years later, graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree.

During college, on spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I met the man who would become my husband, Eric. We married five years later and honeymooned on Kauai. Eleven years after tying the knot, we moved to Kauai, the one and only Hawaiian Island we’d visited 8 or 9 times before moving. That was almost 12 years ago. It seems like yesterday.

This August, my high school graduating class will celebrate the 30th anniversary of our high school graduation. Really? 30 years? Can’t be. There’s something about living in Hawaii, the land of perpetual summer and nine-hour flights to the heartland, that freezes time in my mind. I cannot grasp the reality that I have high school classmates with children in college, getting married and, in some cases, having their own babies. I can’t be that old, can I?

And, now, it’s your turn. Please sit in the front row and let me see who’s out there. Tell me where you’re from. Who your people are. I want to know. In Hawaii, we’d say, “Let’s talk story.” In Augusta, Missouri, my grandmother would say, “Let’s visit.” In the online world, we call it a blog, and we now have a fully functioning—I hope—commenting feature below. Please use it to introduce yourself.

Responses:

Stefanie | Jun 14, 2011 04:00 AM

I also hail from the Midwest. Both grandparents grew up in Washington, MO that fronts the Missouri River. However, I spent all my life in a suburb of Kansas City, MO. My parents would take me to visit family and friends in Washington and a small part of me wished my parents never moved to KC. I love small towns and there seemed to be so much history of my heritage there. I am 95% certain that if records and family "talk" is correct that I am full-blooded German. Pretty rare for someone my age living in the melting pot of the world. I look back on my childhood with nothing but smiles. I played sports and lived what I consider a normal life growing up. I dreamed of being a veterinarian or marine biologist. However, moving to a Florida University would break my mother's heart and spending 6-8 years of my life in college to be a vet seemed like forever when I was a teenager. I chose to study nursing. It seemed like a good fit, until I found myself working 12 hour night shifts in the ICU. I decided I wanted patients to come see me in a office setting with normal hours, so I ventured out to become a Nurse Practitioner. Along the way, I met my fiance. It took him a whole summer to get the courage to ask me out, but boy I am glad he did. We had known each other for 7 years, but life took us different directions until the summer of 2010. I will soon be marrying the love of my life next spring on the garden island of Kauai, thanks to my cousin who writes these blogs. I visited her there on a spring break in 2008. I fell in love with the island and the way of living. I could not imagine getting married anywhere else on earth. Excited to see how the rest of my "story" evolves...

Kim | Jun 14, 2011 02:02 PM

Small towns. That explains it. Kauai may be an island, but it's really a small town island! We're looking forward to the wedding!

Jackie Smith | Jun 16, 2011 04:46 AM

Hi Kim, We met at TBEX11, I am the one wearing the Hawaiian slipper (Na Hoku)necklace 24/7. My husband and I live in Kirkland, WA, a suburb of Seattle and have been frequent visitors to Hawaii since we married 31 (what!? how can that be!?) years ago. Note: my 40th high school reunion is slated for this summer. It's hard to pick a favorite outer island for us, although we have traveled most frequently to Kauai. . .a photo of Louise's original Tahiti Nui taken some 25 years ago still hangs on the wall to the side of my computer. Five years ago we 'rediscovered' and Waikiki and Oahu. We purchased at Marriott's Vacation Club Ko Olina, first a week, and more recently a second week. Both weeks can be divided so we have given ourselves a month in Hawaii each year; perhaps in an attempt to sublimate our ever present desire to 'live in Hawaii'. We've mixed and matched our weeks to allow us a week in Waikiki before heading out to Ko Olina. For purposes of our travel blog, I've named us Hula Babe and Beach Boy for the posts we do while in your wonderful state. This year I had emails from folks saying they were waiting for the adventures of Hula Babe and Beach Boy to begin! Hopefully we will meet up again in person either at a TBEX or in the Land of Aloha.

Kim | Jun 18, 2011 03:28 PM

Hi Jackie--or shall I say, Hula Babe! Of course, I remember you from TBEX11. It was great meeting so many people who share our love for Hawaii. And Auntie Louise! You do have a history with this place. You'll be glad to know that the Tahiti Nui is still rockin' Hanalei. It'll be featured, albeit under a different name, in a movie coming out in December called The Descendents, starring George Clooney. I'll bet you'll like it. It's a movie adaptation. I highly recommend the book, too. The author's name is Kaui Hart Hemmings.

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