I started writing this story the summer of 2019. It’s the scoop on the impressive and unorthodox humans that I got to grow up with – the people that I still idolize. It’s my parents’ unlikely exploits and the bizarreness that was our home-life in 1998. It’s the story of a weighty legacy too – an account of the pressure and self-doubt that can come with living under long shadows.
I began writing it all down last August – writing how my dad ended up on the cover of Ecuador’s biggest sports magazine in 1968, how he saved Julio’s life, how my mom’s face caused a riot down in Santiago, and how we lived in an RV trailer for three years with a pet llama behind Shafer Schoolhouse Road. I retraced the swirl of adventures, realizing as I scoured my memories and sifted through the burned photos how little was actually left of it all. We’d had some bad luck over the years, some tough breaks.
It bothered me.
I started interviewing my parents in the fall. They weren’t bothered. They talked with fondness and laughter, reflecting that same strange freedom that had marked their whole crazy lifestyle. They recounted the motorcycles, the outlandish woodland projects, the dramatic rescue – all of it against the current backdrop of their now very modest Pennsylvania lives. As I struggled to match up the humble present with a colorful past, I realized that the heart of my parents’ story isn’t flashy adventures. It isn’t about bold living. Their real legacy is one of generosity, of decades given – the sacrificial spending of time and talents. And that’s the reason it’s indeed a lot to live up to.
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