Friday, May 24, 2013

Before and After: Thoughts after the Moore Tornado

There may come a time in your life when something changes. 
Deep within you. 
A fundamental shift.

Unlike so many writers, I am not a huge reader. I always read the required reading for school, and I have read the Harry Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games series more times than I can count, but I don't relish books the way so many writers do--or at least they way I perceive they do. I have editor friends who challenge themselves to read fifty-two books a year (that's once a week, if you do the math)! But that's just not me.

That being said, I am in a book club and have enjoyed many good books in the last year and a half that I would not have otherwise picked up. One of those has stuck with me in the way that all English teachers dream of.

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green

It's a story of the Before. And then it's a story of the After.

As I closed the book following my first reading of it, I knew immediately what my Before and After was. Those who know me, know I hold a particular grudge against a certain European country.

My dorm room in France was tiny. The curtains smelled of rotten egg. It snowed my second day. I didn't make many friends. But the food was wonderful, the view of the Puy de Dome was spectacular, and the traveling was cheap. I still get lost in memories as I look through my souvenir post cards.

I didn't hate France. But it will forever be the setting of my ultimate shift.

Good friends. Busy schedule. Easy class load. A plan. 

The plan fell to pieces. 
And so did I.

Returning from France, I realized I had been subconsciously nixing my whole plan for the past six months. I didn't want to go back and live in France. I didn't want to work in International Something. I didn't want to keep studying the French language. Although I had finally figured out what I did want to study, I didn't have a plan to go with it.

And time was running out.

Thus began my After. The questions, the panics, the insecurities, the deadlines. I never saw them coming. It all weighed on me heavier than a cement block. It took a long time to learn how to plow through, finding a new stride that worked and taking the new changes with grace. I'm not done yet; it's shifted my whole self.

On Monday, I watched in horror as an F5 tornado ripped through my town. I live seven miles from houses that look like they've been processed through a blender, ready to be sprinkled over the world's largest salad. I personally know three sets of families who lost their homes. I lay awake at night now, still hearing the sirens that blared.

Maybe, there is more than one Before and After in a lifetime.  

Brunch at Jimmy's Egg. Errands at Target. Date at the Warren. Graduation party in a back yard. Christmas movies at friends' house. Siren test at noon every Saturday.




  1. That was like a phenominal preface to a good book that would confirm my choice and cause me to put it in my basket and head to the checkout counter.

  2. so if you could write the book that goes along with it give me a copy I'd much appreciate it. okkayyy thanks.