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  • I grew up without a television.
    One afternoon, when I was 3, my brothers and I were clamoring to watch Bozo the Clown, and my Father had a Game he wanted to watch.
    That was the last time I saw a TV in the house until I was 19 years old.
    I wish I could say that my Mother threw it out of the window like the rockers in Led Zepplin’s party hotel. Let’s pretend that is how it happened, theatrics aside, it was gone.
    I jokingly refer to those years as “My years of media blackout”.

    Growing up without a TV is a lot like being the one at the party without a drink.
    I listened to people repeat simple phrases and choke with laughter or bond over the excitement of recognition, finishing each other’s sentences.

    People need these bonds and will form them around any thing they are attracted to.
    Advertisements are catchy and have an inside joke so the appeal for children is strong.
    Adults get to choose their clubs and groups although you can’t always choose the groups your spouse does.

    “What do you do when Kat is on Cowbird?” my sister-in-law, Claire asked my husband.
    I laughed, ironically, because one summer my husband had spent so much time carving a marble relief that I became jealous.
    “You are in love with your sculpture,” I complained.
    I was jealous of his happiness, his absorption in his ideas, and I was in between things.

    We had once worked for a power couple that each had passionate pursuits.
    “Barrie does not feel like a garden widow because I do not feel like a golf widow,” was how she explained it.

    I had not seen my brother Ben for a year and we just had a weekend visit that tapped into the deeper reaches of time, and so it felt timeless.
    We have also been visiting our stories and so feel that we have been having a long conversation.
    We used to write letters to each other, our friends, and family, now we share stories.

    We share our stories and yours too.
    We had a big dinner; “Think we have enough food?” Claire joked.
    I discovered that my niece’s friend, at our table, was a Cowbird author who had introduced Ben to the site.

    After dinner Ben brought out the storybook, the Cowbird storybook.
    He read aloud from a selection of the writers there.
    “Oh, I like that guy,” my niece said when a story of a ballistic substitute teacher brought a roar of recognition from the teachers in the group.
    I looked over at my husband and saw he was smiling and laughing and enjoying the words.
    Claire was knitting and the rest of the group stared off into space or towards Ben, as if he was a movie screen that the stories came from.

    ***
    I made a fourth grade playground fall silent one day when I asked, “What is a commercial?”
    Everyone heard me, stared, and repeated the question to their neighbor’s on the monkey-bars.
    After the silence came a tsunami of laughter.
    “She doesn’t know what a commercial is,” they shouted, whooped and gasped.

    ***

    There we were, my family, on a remote Island, but with solar power, we read a digital book of One Thousand Stories.
    Out of the caves and into the 21st century.
    We did not have time for all of you, but you were all there and have become a part of how we relate to life.
    Our family circle, around the fire, has grown large.
    It circles the globe.
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