The Coachella Valley Storyteller Project is a series of storytelling evenings presented by The Desert Sun partnered with University of California Riverside (UCR) Palm Desert's low-residency MFA program. This event brings together community members to both tell and listen to stories from neighbors in hopes of bridging gaps and creating ties from one end of the Coachella Valley to the other.
On March 19, more than 200 people gathered to listen to five stories of "love and heartbreak." I shared my story of the bond between one of my childhood cats, Nancy, and me. Love and heartbreak was the theme of the night, but "cats" has always been my personal theme. Here, I explain my deep connection to cats and the unconditional love of a special cat who taught me that true love exists.
At the start of this storytelling journey, I couldn't get through the first few sentences without dissolving into tears. My heart was still aching, but I had a need to tell Nancy's story and what she meant to me. This little black cat brought joy into many lives and went by many names: Nancy, Kitty Jackson, Black Kitty, etc. and was a stable part of a home that was often unstable and scary. I participated in four rehearsals (two on the phone and two in person) to prepare myself and polish Nancy's story.
Thank you to the Desert Sun and UCR Palm Desert and their teams for this extraordinary experience, support, and coaching.
Hear CV Storytellers Project 'Love & Heartbreak' stories by Kristen Scharkey, DESERT Magazine