I was part of a Human Library today, as part of the college’s Global Engagement Week. (This is what happens when you invite people to storytelling workshops… they come to understand that you’re a storyteller, and then they ask you to tell stories.)
After struggling for a bit with what my “title” would be, by which people would check out my story, I lit on my story about Kenyon’s rebuilding trip to New Orleans after Katrina and Rita. I shared a rather wooly recounting of the trip with a couple of people. And then in a lull between “readers”, our organizer Marne asked me, very gently, if I had known Matt Huber.
There’s only one reason you’d ask that question that way.
Matt, the slight asthmatic freshman who worked so hard on the job sites?
Matt, the kid on fire in my office a couple of weeks after we got back, struggling with the fact that the job wasn’t done yet?
Matt, the strapping senior with the ponytail, winning the college’s Anderson Cup for his 3 years of organizing rebuilding trips?
Matt, one of the reasons I say this trip is the single moment of my Kenyon experience I’m most proud of?
Yes, I knew him. What a loss, that he should be gone at 29.
Marne and I talked a little bit about what a great guy he was. As she put it, we get to see all the students grow over 4 years, but sometimes we’re privileged to see the watershed moment when things really change.
I sat for a little while, and then I walked back to my office. I started the electric kettle, and listened as the water heated and boiled, giving a thought to the fridge full of beer on my left. I poured the steaming water into my dirty coffee cup, tore open a little green packet of Irish Breakfast tea, and bobbed the bag slowly in the water.
I wiped my eyes and talked to Jason about a logistical matter.
And I walked back to the Human Library, and told my story again. Our story, this story I now carry for one person more.