Ode to Uptown Stories

By: David Nuñez

View all David Nuñez's works

I remember the first time I ever went to an Uptown Stories class back in the summer of 2017. I was 8 at the time, and I remember feeling a mixture of anxiety, excitement, hopefulness, whatever usually comes to mind when you’re about to set foot into a new place, where the butterflies in your stomach tell you to take that risk and make that jump for it. 

I remember the first time I opened those wooden doors of Cornerstone Church, how I was welcomed in and went up the stairs towards the place that feels like home now with the amount of times I’ve been there before. Sitting down at the table, staring at the books on the walls, the anthologies that held the works of imagination from those taking classes before me. The first class (of many) that I was a part of was “Summer Shorts”, and it was there where I got to see what Uptown Stories was really about. It’s more than just a writing workshop, it’s a place where you get to be free and open up this creative side of you that you maybe didn’t even know was there before. Pre-2017 I used to enjoy writing. I didn’t do it much, but it was always something that I could turn to and go “oh, yeah I like to write”. It wasn’t a big passion of mine though. However, after that first short story class at Uptown Stories, I realized how much writing meant to me. It seemed like I finally caught on to this light that I didn’t even know was there. And so, I signed up for another class. And another one. And maybe a few more. 

Over time, Uptown Stories became this second part of me, and I loved everything it had to offer. The snacks, the colored lights, the way we would jump up to sit on the (covered) heater, the piano which we would either play random notes on or have someone play an actual masterpiece, the laughs, the talks, the editing we would do, the stories that we told, the exquisite corpses, and of course, the teachers. The teachers who would help push you on the right track, whatever you decide that to be. 

Everything about Uptown Stories amazed me.

In Fall 2017, I joined Jane Lecroy’s “The Game of Poetry” class. I was already growing used to writing stories, but poetry was a totally different medium. Looking back, if it was my first time at Uptown Stories, I probably would’ve been really anxious; writing poetry, something I wasn’t used to, trying something new, and so on. But, I knew how Uptown Stories was. I knew that Jane, even before meeting her, would accept me with open arms, and that I would have an amazing time with all of the other students there. And I couldn’t be any closer to the truth, I enjoyed every moment of that class, just as I later on enjoyed Stacy’s fiction class, or Kate’s horror class, or any of the other classes that I was trying for the first time (or returning to). 

I was especially fond of Jane’s poetry class, as it helped me realize that I really enjoyed writing poetry. I still do it in my free time to this day, and it’s something that I am forever grateful to her (and of course, to Uptown Stories) for sparking in me. That same first poetry class, I wrote a short poem about Uptown Stories, and how it helps open people up, to be brave and share what light they’re hiding, or that they don’t even know that they had. To this day, I still stand by that.

Scratch what I said before, Uptown Stories is more than just a place, it’s a family, it’s something that’s so hard to describe, but can always clear your mind when you turn to it. It helped me find this part of me that I am so passionate about, and it helped me open up to people more, with how I would share my writing at Word Up with the parents and with others I took the classes with. 

I remember taking a few classes online during the pandemic; they obviously weren’t the same on Zoom as in person, but they still had that warm feeling that you get with the people at Uptown Stories. Those classes helped me still show my creativity through such dark times, and gave me more to do with all of the free time we got.

I remember volunteering to help out with Jane’s “The Nature of Poetry” class during the summer last year. I loved how it came full circle, from me being the student only 6 years prior to me helping the kids with their work (albeit, we did mostly spend time having fun and hanging out). Even though I was helping out watch over the kids as we went through the neighborhood, I still felt like I was a student, like I was taking the class all over again. And in a way, I was. I was taking the opportunity to inspire my poetry, and I was writing poetry in my free time even before helping out with the class, but it was something about just being there that sparked the creativity that I was missing out on. 

And so, if you were to ask me now what Uptown Stories is, I’m sorry, but I can’t give you a simple definition. But I can tell you what it feels like. It feels like that cold water on a hot summer day, like the taste of that cake you’re craving, like how you feel when you’re staring off at the sunset and there’s just the right breeze, like when you’ve got the ones you love watching you share something you’re passionate about, and you’re not afraid to share it. 

I’ve loved Uptown Stories, and I will continue to love it for years to come. Sometimes it’s a bit scary to share your work, but Uptown Stories truly helps you get out there and open up. It tells you that sometimes, as I said in that first poem from that poetry class in the Fall of 2017, you have to be brave, you have to be strong and share that light within, just like I learned to. You have to be the story.

Leave a Comment