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And keep listening at the end of the show today for a special bonus story made possible by progressive. Be sure to check out Sylves Love Now on Amazon Prime video set in Harlem in the 1950s, a young woman meets an aspiring saxophonist in her father's record shop and their love ignites a sweeping romance that transcends the changing times. Watch Sylves Love, directed by Eugene Ashe, starring Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha and produced by MOTHE board member Gabrielle Glawe on Amazon Prime video.


Welcome to The Moth podcast. I'm your host for this week. Daim will learn so much about Valentine's Day, is focused on puppy love, the gifts, the dinners, the guy giving the flower to the girl. And to be clear, there's nothing wrong with all of that.


But this week, our stories are about a deeper kind of love, one that persists beyond February 14th and finds its way to us when we least expect it. Our first storyteller is Kemp. Powers told this story at a grand slam in Los Angeles almost 10 years ago. The theme of the night was point of no return. Here's Kemp live at the Moss.


I'm 37 years old, and I wasn't really very good at much of anything in my 20s, least of all marriage, but the decision to get a divorce wasn't an easy one.


It's interesting because. Four for a lot of people. The legal tangle is what stops them from getting a divorce, but in my world, that wasn't really a big decision maker. It was because we had a daughter and going through it, that meant that on some level I was going to be losing her, if not literally, then figuratively.


So when people have a really bad breakup, it's not uncommon for one parent to be left feeling like. Basically, their kid is better off without them. And in my case, it wasn't very hard to convince me. To put it very simply, I really, really, really sucked at being a dad. When my daughter was a small infant, I swore that she was going to break some kind of record for a falling out of bassinets, falling out of cribs, falling out of beds.


And it always seemed to happen when I was the one that was watching her and I was hardly ever around. I traveled so much for work. And in the rare occasions that I was there, any effort that I made to try to bond with her always seemed to backfire. I bought her this when she was three months old. I bought her this Guanglie little puppet that I named Sanchez after my favorite reggae dancehall singer.


And she was she was really into Sesame Street. So I really thought that this puppet was going to bring her a lot of joy. Instead, it terrified her.


And from there, things just continued to get worse.


I mean, by the time when she was six months old, I decided that it was really smart for her to know that fire was dangerous and it was something that she should stay away from. So one day when I was making a cup of tea, I picked her up, holding her in one hand in the hot kettle and the other.


I explained very carefully that you should never, ever, ever touch hot things because they could hurt you.


At least I did in my mind, because in reality, by the time I got to the word touch, she'd already reached out and grabbed the bottom of the steaming kettle and burned herself.


So by the time my daughter was one years old, I was already pretty much afraid to be left alone with her. She suffered from a febrile seizure at 18 months and vomited in the middle of the night and inhaled it, almost choking to death. She was in the hospital for a week and I remember looking at her in that incubator with the tubes up her nose and the Butterfly IV in her hand and thinking to myself, Dude, you're just going to fucking get somebody killed.


And so I didn't fight because I didn't really think I had any right to I didn't fight the incredibly restrictive visitation rights that I had. I didn't fight when her mother asked for my approval to relocate to Phoenix. And I didn't even fight when the visitation that we did agree upon fell by the wayside, because at the end of the day, they were too busy in their life out there for her to keep up with her schedule of visitation in Los Angeles.


So my friends, they were really supportive, but they weren't really able to offer me any counsel. It was this really bizarre twist that we had all grown up in this world where divorce was just a fact of life. But suddenly I found myself in this adult world where every single family that I knew was nuclear. It was like we were suddenly back in the 50s, only I didn't have to drink out of a separate water fountain. And I didn't have to worry about getting lynched from having had a kid with a white lady.


But every single person that I knew my age was either so happily married that it bordered on kind of sickening or so relentlessly single that it bordered on parody.


And my friends love me and I love them, too. But to all of them, to the to the friends who were married, I was basically that single guy that they could live vicariously through and to the ones who were single. I was the divorcee with all the responsibility that proved to them that them not having any kids and not getting married had been the right decision to make.


So I basically went on with my life and got used to the routine that we had. That was all I really had. The sporadic phone calls, the grudging pick that happened at the halfway point between Los Angeles and Phoenix in an aptly named shithole of a town called Desert Center.


It was a barren place filled with more scorpions and dust devils than people and our drives out of the desert. My daughter and I hardly ever spoke and I was pretty glad about that because not talking meant that I never really had to explain why we were in the situation that we were in.


So one day back in March, I get this telephone call early in the morning and it's for my daughter. And I'm pretty surprised because she almost never calls me when I answer.


She's distraught, she's crying. She says, Dad, a tsunami has just destroyed Japan and it's heading for California. You need to get out of bed right now and get to a high point immediately.


Now, initially, I just had to assure her that there was no chance that a tidal wave was going to wash away Koreatown any time soon.


But she was still too worried to be calmed down.


So to assuage her fears, I had to talk to her. And we talked we talked about her piano lessons. We talked about her upcoming 13th birthday. We talked about her now six year old brother who lived with me, who she missed dearly. And we talked about me, who she missed just as much. It turned out that she still had her puppet, Sanchez, which she hung on the wall next door a bit.


When my daughter's 13th birthday came around, we made a pact.


Going forward, we would speak every Sunday at 12:00 p.m., no matter where we were. And when we spoke, she would get to ask me one question. It didn't matter what the question was. I had to give her the answer. And this was something that made me a little bit nervous because I was finally going to be held accountable for something. When the first question came, it was, what was my favorite book after that? It was what was my favorite movie a week later?


What was my favorite song.


And as the weeks turned into months, these questions revolved about the things I'd done, the places I've been, and how I was living my life.


My daughter is thirteen years old and five foot 10 inches tall, but I can still pick her up and I can still hold her in my arms. We talk every week now and when I hold her every time that I see her and when I do, I just make sure that I keep that hot kettle just a little bit out of reach.


Thank you. That was Kent Powers, Kim Powers is a playwright, director, screenwriter and occasional bird watcher. He says he was a very angry and cynical young man who inexplicably grew into a happy and optimistic adult. Kemp is the co-director and co-writer of Seoul and the playwright and screenwriter of One Night in Miami. The play and now film details the fictionalized meeting of brother Malcolm Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke at the Hampton House in February of 1964.


You can watch it now on Amazon Prime. Up next this week is Beth Bradley. Beth told this story at a story slam in Denver where the theme of the night was Love Hurts. Here's Beth live at The Moth.


So it was a Tuesday night and I was in the market for a frozen pizza. I happened to be at the fancy natural grocery store and as such, they're pizza options were pretty grim. So there were lots of things involving like pretend cheese or cauliflower, things of that nature. So I'm kind of like glumly perusing the options. And I happened upon one that appears to have actual pizza ingredients in it. And it's called home run. But immediately my reflex was I can't get that one.


And so I kept looking. But then I took a second and I was like, why did I just decide that? And I realized that the last time I had it was in Seattle. My ex-boyfriend had brought it over for dinner one night. And I remember him just being, like, very impressed with the quality and also likewise with himself for having purchased it. And so so the thing the thing with my ex-boyfriend is that the whole time we were together, he was battling an alcohol addiction.


And that's why we had to break up. And then in March, the worst thing that could possibly happen happened. And he died because of it. So that's why I can't get this pizza. And as I'm thinking about that, I'm realizing, like I've been doing these other little things that are kind of similar, like in an unconscious way, like he loved that show, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And I do, too. But I can't watch any of the episodes that he hasn't been able to watch.


Or like I used to go we used to take my dog on nature walks near his house, and he always referred to as says, the Nature Rangers and which I liked because I thought of like third graders swearing like Ranger hats or something. And so even though two of the three nature rangers are still here, like I've retired the name, and I don't ever think of it that way anymore. So I'm still in the frozen food aisle and just like rudely blocking the pizzas from everyone else.


And I'm like starting to tear up, you know, and, like, cry a little bit. And I've spent like a lot of time in the past year, like thinking about grief, being in grief, studying grief. But this pizza aisle crying stage of grief feels like when I didn't read about and it feels new and I'm trying to figure out why. So I think it's like when you lose somebody to an addiction, like there's obviously a lot of sorrow with that.


But there's also like blame and guilt and regret and anger. And it just feels like poison sometimes, like carrying that stuff around with you.


And. So it's like where I just want to forget it happened and. So sometimes I'm mad at me, sometimes I'm mad at him, sometimes I'm mad at other people he knew. And sometimes I'm just mad at the world that it happened. But. It's like in this moment, all this time, I've spent wanting to forget him, instead I'm remembering this pizza and I'm remembering the Nature Rangers and Kimmy Schmidt and it's like. I I know that the reason I'm not doing these things is not coming from like that anger or that guilt, it's something different.


And it's like after all this time, I want to, like, have a connection to him. I want some solidarity with him. And that feels new and that feels different. Like, if you can't have this pizza, then neither can I. And. So I think about. Some of the things that I've learned about grief and like one of the things I've learned is that you kind of have to let it happen to you, like you have to let it change you the way that it's going to and.


If this is, you know, I've looked for healing like in the mountains or in churches, but if healing is going to find me in the grocery store pizza, I'll like I'll take it, you know, and. Maybe someday I will. Eat these pizzas again or I'll watch Kimmy Schmidt, but for now, it feels like the right thing to do to remember him, like after trying to tangle my story from his home, disconnect from him like this is something I can do to stay connected to him and.


Even though it's not like a monument or a plaque or. Something. Monumental that to come back to it's like I think that if he knew that my healing and memory of him were pizza based, like he loved pizza and he loves laughing, and I think that he would crack up and I think he would love it. That was Beth Bradley, Beth is a marketing content director who lives in Denver. She loves dogs, hiking and adventures of all kinds.


Beth says she's been telling stories since she could talk and listening to the MOF since she was a teenager. She's proud to say she's won two slams and come in second at the Denver Grand Slam twice. You can check out a photo of Beth and her beloved dog, Amber, at our Web site, The Moth Dogs Extras. This Valentine's Day, we hope you'll take time to celebrate all the different kinds of love in your life. Most people who listen to the MOF know how I met my wife.


What they haven't heard is how I met my platonic soulmate. He and I went to college together and we met the way most college people meet during a Kager. I stepped off the tailgate of the pickup truck and fell into Mark. From then on, we've just been connecting. The pandemic has been very difficult for us. We don't get together as much as we used to, but we do keep in touch by sharing song lyrics. Our favorite one comes from Van Morrison.


Sweet thing. I shall drive my chariot down your streets and cry. Hey, it's me, I'm dynamite and I don't know why. If you have a story about love, any kind of love, consider throwing your name in the hat at one of our virtual stories slams. The theme for the month of February is Love Hurts. For more upcoming themes, details and tickets, head to our Web site, The Mogk Events. That's all for us this week until next time from all of us here at the mall, have a story worthy week.


Happy Valentine's Day. Dame Walburn is a long time host and storyteller with them all. She's also the host of the podcast DM's Eclectic Brain. This episode of The Moth podcast was produced by me, Julia Purcell with Sarah Austin Ginés and Sarah Jane Johnson. The rest of the Moth leadership team includes Kathryn Burns, Sarah Habermann, Jennifer Higson, Meg Bolls, Kate Tellers, Jennifer Bermingham, Marina Koochie, Suzanne Rust, Brandon Grant Good Norske and Aldy Kaza.


Both stories are true, as remembered and affirmed by storytellers. For more about our podcast information on pitching your own story and everything else, go to our website, The Moth Dog. The Moth podcast is presented by the Public Radio Exchange helping make public radio more public at PUREX Dog.


Moth story slams are back held on Mondays beginning in February. Join us for our weekly Open Mike story slam competition. February's theme is Love Hurts.


Throw your name in the hat for a chance to tell your story or just come to listen to stories of a total eclipse of the heart kicked to the curb by the people or places or things you love or used to love. Visit them off events to buy tickets. Now, that's the Moth Duggie events.