I remember it like it was yesterday: I stood in our chilly bedroom in San Francisco with its minimal view of the Pacific (on a sunny day) and told Matt how many local friends had recently claimed that they’d be “living vicariously” through my experience of sending a child to kindergarten. Most of our friends’ children were a year behind Baxter in school and everyone was a bit nervous about the idea of “real school”. We were the trailblazers.
Did I suggest that it might get old, repeating everything eight different times to eight different friends? I don’t remember. What I do recall, though, is that Matt responded with, “Why don’t you start a blog about it?” My immediate response to this idea was, “I don’t even really know what that is.”
Despite my ignorance at the time, Baxtergarten was born, a blog that Matt and I shared and contributed to throughout that first year of Baxter’s education. My first post was written just a few days after that conversation. I never even knew how to turn on the comment feature that year, but I did enjoy the writing. And the feedback was positive, from all eight people who read it.
There were a great many things I did not know in that August of 2005 when Baxtergarten was created. I could never have predicted that a mere 11 months later I’d be living in a little blue house in the city of Chicago, uprooted and essentially starting our life over in a very different part of the country. Nor would I have believed how happy I’d be in our new home and that the next year we’d have moved to a home of our own.
But honestly? If someone had told me that three years down the line I’d be so intimately involved with friends made through blogging that I would drop everything to leave my family while on vacation to fly to Los Angeles and stay with a friend I’d made through blogging in order to attend the memorial service of the son of another friend I’d made through blogging? And that two other good friends would be there, friends I’d made – yes, you guessed it – through blogging? And that members of this community from all over the country would have pooled their considerable resources and talent to find personal and unique ways to show support to this grieving family? Well, frankly, I wouldn’t have even known how to respond, so foreign and odd would it have sounded back in August 2005.
And yet, here I sit in the American Airlines terminal of Los Angeles International Airport after just such an experience. I can’t quite explain to anyone not involved in this amazing, supportive community of online writers how it all came to pass and why it works for us, and I would imagine that it sounds as foreign and odd to them as it would have to me a few years ago. But I’m not inclined to try to explain it. Because it doesn’t really matter how it happened, all that matters is that it has.
If we don’t get in our own way out of a fear of the foreign or odd, if we can stop ourselves from blocking the natural progress of our lives, incredible things happen. To me, this is what it means to ride this unexpectedly beautiful Wonderwheel of life.