I was having a discussion this week with one of my students about the elements of a good story. Something has to happen to the character, I told her, something that sets the story in motion, otherwise a story is just a person going about her ordinary life and who wants to read about that? I was that character living her ordinary life until 2010. I lived in the town I was born in, in the house I was born in. I ate cereal for breakfast, I went to work, I ran in place on the treadmill at the gym, I watched a lot of tv, I slept. It was the kind of ordinary life not worth reading about.
And then everything changed.
Barely had I crossed the threshold into 2010 when I got a message saying that there’d been a terrible accident. Terrible isn’t the word. This was worse than terrible and there aren’t words for how terrible it was. Then a note appeared at the side of Mark’s hospital bed that said, It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness–and it was oh so dark. But we lit candles and cried and celebrated the life of a boy who from the moment he came into being lived the kind of life worth reading about. There was nothing ordinary about Mark. Everything about him was extraordinary.
There is no question that I had wanted to leave my ordinary life for a long time. I had often dreamed of picking up and starting over somewhere else. My brower’s history was filled with years worth of searches of far off places and some not so far off places, but they were just searches. And then one cold winter day in 2010 I chose Austin. I don’t exactly know why I chose it. I often say it was for the music, and maybe it was, but I think mostly it was because it was somewhere completely foreign and new. So I moved.
2010 will always be the year that started my story, at least the one I think will be worth reading about. 2010 was the year that I set off on adventure because it seemed like the right thing to do. It was the year I learned to drive a u-haul, made incredible friends, kayaked, learned to love football, ate tacos, found euphoria, and became part of a great Austin family. It was the year that I had so much to celebrate.
Mark lived by the motto, Dum Vivamus Vivamus, which means, while we live, let us live and I have tried so hard to live that this year the way he did so effortlessly in his life. 2010 has been an epic year, the kind that makes me excited for what is still to come for it will be extraordinary for sure.
Happy New Year!