Education Blog

The Power of Story Student Spotlight: Pat Esposito

By Pat Esposito, Power of Story Student 01.04.17

"In the final days of 2013, recently displaced from what would be my last professional assignment, I stood in the lobby of the JBFC Theater amid scores of people and the smell of popcorn. Feeling somewhat claustrophobic in the crowded space, I ambled over to the side of the lobby and picked up the JBFC catalog of courses for the 2014 Spring Semester. Browsing the catalog, I read about an adult writing course: “Claim your confidence and get inspired to bring stories out of your heart and imagination. The Power of Story: Everything is Possible.” Taking a writing course was at the bottom of my bucket list, but since learning how to drive a formula one racing car and going to the Middle East, were not immediately viable, I registered for the spring semester of The Power of Story.

The course began in February of 2014 and on the first day of class after getting lost in the town of Pleasantville, and arriving conspicuously late I entered the classroom taking the only remaining seat right next to the instructor Anne Marie Santoro. This was an uncomfortable start for someone who always opted for the seat in the back of the class. My unease quickly subsided as I listened to student stories about the history of their given names. We quickly learned the first premise of the course: Everyone has a story to tell.

In the coming weeks we would explore how inspiration for a story can be sparked by being attentive to our experiences. How Sylvester Stallone went to a boxing match, came home and wrote a ninety-page screenplay that became the Rocky franchise; how a “look of bitter longing” between two men was the spark for the short story that became the screenplay for the movie Brokeback Mountain. We were asked to go home and be mindful to what was going on. The second premise of the course: Mindfulness.

Before I drove home I stopped to do some errands filling my trunk with stuff that I would ultimately have to haul into the house. Finally home, I parked the car, got out and unloaded the trunk. My arms now filled with packages I proceeded to walk to the door when I slipped and fell on the icy snow-covered walk. I picked myself up and started to walk again. As I did, I listened to the sound of the snow crunching under my boots and felt the wet snow on my face. As I stooped to pick up the packages which were strewn all over the driveway, the gentle breeze turned into a gust of wind. Suddenly, I remembered another snow-filled moment long ago.....and in those few seconds of remembrance, the “Shadows,” was born.

My unanticipated early retirement closed one door; my enrollment in The Power of Story opened another. I went on to write other stories, poems, and Shadows was published in the fall of 2014. I continue to write and to learn the basic premise of the Power Of Story, that truly, everything is possible."

Shadows, by Pat Esposito

Resting one night after shoveling snow she sat on her stoop (like the little girl from Brooklyn she always was) and listened. Except for the sound of a neighbor’s shovel or the scraping of a truck’s plow the quiet of the night was striking. She sat there, smoking a cigarette and thinking about winter nights in Brooklyn. She especially remembered one.

She and her father had gone to the movies not knowing snow was in the evening forecast. So, they were surprised when they exited the theater to see it was snowing really hard. Her father bent down zipped up his daughter’s jacket and pulled her hat down over her ears. He took his little girl’s hand and together they started the five or six block walk home. After only a minute or two they were burrowing their heads in their jackets as the ice tinged snow bit their faces and the wind swirled ‘round them. The little girl was only seven. She was frightened.
 Her father sensing this pulled her closer to him. Looking for a place to get out of the storm they took shelter under the eaves of a building. Crouching over the child he opened his jacket drew her inside and held her tight. In that place, in that nanosecond of time, the wind no longer whirled; the snow no longer stung. The streetlamp cast its light upon them, imprinting their shadows in the snow.

Lost in thought, she had forgotten about her cigarette, which now was burning a hole in her glove. With a flick of the wrist the butt was tossed and the hand ungloved. “I’m tired,” she thought. “I should go home.” With that she stood, zipped up her jacket and pulled her hat over her ears. Leaning on her shovel she started climbing the stairs. Once at the top of the stairs, she put the shovel down and opened the door. Holding the door half open, she turned and looked at the street. Gazing once more at the evening snow she closed her eyes.

Then, as with all things, whether kind or unkind—whether loving or not, she shrugged her shoulders and went inside. 

Shadows was previously published in Balanced Rock: The North Salem Review of Art, Photography and Literature, a publication of the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library, North Salem, New York. This post is the first installment in a series of spotlights on students from our Power of Story courses. To learn more about our Power of Story courses and to register for Spring 2017, please visit our Education Courses website.