Trigger warning: Alcoholism, Nazis

“There are layers to all of the legacies and heirlooms in our lives” – Ann Marie

Amy

On November 15th, Ex Fabula held our Legacy & Heirlooms StorySlam at Dandy. This was Ex Fabula’s first time hosting a StorySlam at Dandy, and the space was a hit. As a vintage shop and an event space, it was the perfect place to inspire stories about the things are passed down to us and how we carry the legacy of others. We heard from storytellers about legacies of activism, alcoholism, strength, sickness, trauma, laughter, and love. These stories asked us to grapple with questions like: are heirlooms objects or the memories that come with them, and how can we balance learning from our legacies but not letting them define us? The emcees of the night, John Lopez and De’Shawn Ewing, got everyone pumped up and welcomed our first storyteller of the night to the stage!

“Hello, my name is Amy, and I am not an alcoholic” was how Amy Wilbourne started her story. Then, she spoke of the habits that she learned from her alcoholic father and brother. Later in life, as alcohol severely impacted her relationships, she started to cope with this part of her identity. Amy still couldn’t call herself an alcoholic until joining a Peloton sober riders group, where she finally found her community. She ended by proudly stating, “My name is Amy, and I am an alcoholic.”

Lulu

Caroline

Jenny

The next two storytellers were new to the Ex Fabula stage and told stories about carrying on their family legacies. Lulu Phifer was very little when her grandmother developed dementia, so all she knew of her was this disease that burdened her family. Lulu was in high school when her grandmother passed away, and when she was asked to do a reading at the funeral, Lulu decided to learn more about her grandmother’s life before dementia. She discovered an independent powerful woman who dedicated her life to service and who has been a huge inspiration to Lulu.

Caroline Fogarty is inspired by her parents and told a story about them that has been passed down to her. Caroline’s mother was an activist who regularly attended and ran protests. One day they were protesting at a bank, and a colleagues was concerned that the FBI had shown up. She pointed to a very serious man intently watching the protest, to which Caroline’s mother replied, “That’s not the FBI; that is my husband.” This story was not just about a legacy of activism Caroline has inherited but also that of love and support.

Jenny Wanasek spoke of her close relationship with her paternal grandmother. Jenny would sit and listen to all her stories, and she cherished the time that they spent together. Many years later, she was talking with her parents and brought up a story about a pair of pearl opera glasses her grandmother had received as a gift. Her father had the glasses but never knew the story behind them. Jenny closed by asking the question, “So, what is the heirloom? Is it the pearl opera glasses, is it the story, or is it the feeling of being cherished?”

Charlie

The fifth storyteller was Financial Consultant Charlie Wroblewski, who talked about an impactful relationship with one of his clients. This client happened to be an old basketball coach of Charlie’s and was one of the first people to support him when he started this career. When the client was diagnosed with cancer, Charlie helped put his affairs in order. The client recently passed away, and Charlie shared the difficult feelings that come up when dealing with inheritances. He left the stage with the sentiment, “You can inherit love and joy as much as you can inherit money…The challenge with inheriting love and joy is that it’s the only thing you can also inherit that requires agency to pass on. You can inherit any amount of money and do whatever you want, but you have to actively carry on the inheritance of love and joy.”

Brian

Ann Marie

Libby

Our next storyteller brought the entire room into full-blown laughter with a story about a very messy family Christmas. Brian Hulseman was in a huge van with his 12 siblings, and after one sibling threw up, a chain reaction started. They pulled over and had the boys strip off their soiled clothes in 8-degree weather. It was a rough night for everyone!

Ann Marie Moss, the seventh storyteller, was proud of her German heritage until a classmate asked if she was a Nazi. After that, she distanced herself from her heritage and was afraid of telling people she was German all the way up until college. Now she has realized she can still love her German heritage and has started speaking German again and goes to all the Oktoberfests that she can!

The final storyteller of the night was Libby Wissing. Libby works at a summer camp where the camp counselors and the lifeguards have a history of not getting along. It turns out this is actually the legacy of a certain camp counselor she worked with in the past. This counselor turned all of the campers against the lifeguards after a misunderstanding about pizza. Libby reenacted campers chanting, “We trusted you. You burned us,” onstage.

Thank you to all of these great storytellers who shared such heart-warming stories of legacies and heirlooms. The Audience Favorite, Jenny Wanasek, will be invited back to our ALL STARS StorySlam this spring. Check our Events page for more details.