Wikipedia, my real brain, tells us that:
The Decameron is a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375). The book is structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men as they shelter in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the raging Black Death (of the mid-14th Century). The tales of love in The Decameron range from the erotic to the tragic. Additionally, tales of wit, practical jokes, and life lessons contribute to the book’s richness. In addition to its literary value and widespread influence (for example on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales), it provides a document of life at the time.
I’ve got The Decameron and Boccaccio on my mind as we work to survive the combined plagues of Covid-19 and the politics of the past year. However, unlike the book’s group of young (today we might call them entitled) storytellers isolated in place for only ten days, we have been locked in for an entire year and for most of us, not in some secluded rich noble’s country villa. I’ve been thinking of the stories I could and am telling of my experiences over the past months. And I’m wondering about what your stories must be. Can we put together our own Decameron Now and preserve these tales for future VASA storytellers and Members?
For example, I could tell of the rainy night a huge maple tree fell on our house, destroyed part of the roof, brought down the living room ceiling, flooded the lower level of our tri-level. This started an almost six months of dealing with insurance and construction companies, all dealing with diminished staff, scattered work sites, having a variety of masked and unmasked people tramping through our home. Clean up and repair were further complicated by all sorts of shortages of cleaning and protective supplies, disinfectants, paper products, almost any kind of building supplies. Perhaps not the romance and intrigues of Bocaccio’s stories, but captivating enough in its own right, especially when we were living through the adventure.
Or how relationships grew or faltered with the changed circumstances. For example, after almost 30 years, my wife and I having to learn to live with each other 24/7. Sharing a suddenly not that large a house, including adjacent offices and a single printer. And despite everything, maybe because of everything, learning to enjoy ever-lengthening woods and river walks, an increasing palate of home-cooked meals from around the world, and even learning to like the same stand-up specials and murder movies.
And you and I could each tell the Tales of our surviving this past year as our live venues melted away and we quickly learned to adapt to virtual telling, teaching, and workshopping. As ZOOM and the phrase, “You’re still muted!” became everyday parts of our vocabularies. And, who would have guessed that by this Fall and Winter, we’d have superb storytelling and listening opportunities almost 24/7, making friends with fellow story-lovers from all over the world. We discovered that like the young tellers of The Decameron, we were all telling safely in the same virtual villa.
All these stories! The stories of this era, when going out looking for toilet paper and masks becomes a life-threatening adventure. We all have these stories, we’ve each been living our own Decameron. We invite you to post one of your pandemic stories on this Blog site, either in writing or as links to a recorded YouTube or audio version. Please send your submissions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll see that they get posted.
Les Schaffer, Blog Editor