Life is Beautiful — The Understory and Next Theme

Here’s Rob McRay’s understory from November 2019’s theme “Life is Beautiful.” 

Life is beautiful, Nashville.

We always wanted to be a mom and we plan it all with Excel sheets and white boards. And we taught them all the important lessons, like how to cook and there’s more to banking than the card working, and to lean to the right. But we forgot to tell them where to find the…“Kentucky Jelly.”75 - Life is Beautiful

We climbed to base camp through Middle Earth, across swinging steel bridges with prayer flags, in a drenching sleet storm, with acrophobia and low oxygen. But the helicopter bill was cancelled, and we have pictures of how annoyed we were.

We became friends with “Lady Gaga for Jesus,” who never worried about cancer, and went to chemo in Dolly droppings, and was happy in hospice. Her job here is done…but she sparkled in the shadows.

After 9 pins and a metal plate and 3 years of injections, we learned where to look in an elevator and how to dodge bridal pedal parties. But the real story is about measles and a baby and a chance at life—because of our breaks.

Our virtual friendship disintegrated in fights over ridiculous things, till he shouted, “I will find you and kill you!” After two days in the sunshine at Holiday World, we stopped responding—but life is better without him.

We mean the beach, or the mountains, or even the B’oro, but in the world’s largest open-air prison, they mean something very different. A wrong turn led to hours of interrogations and different definitions of “normal.” And we can only say, “This is the life.”

Two liters of wine helped us understand the Irishman. But after two missed flights and two missed buses, and a trail of puke, and a shocking discovery at an internet café, we avoided a terrible fate with the trafficker. And we will never forget the gift of their magic carpet.

We were screaming at the “Son of the Virgin,” but his words were like an injection in our eyeballs. We remind him of how much he has to be thankful for. And he taught us that incarceration is just a matter of geography—and to focus now on beautiful things.

We climbed on the counter to fix plastic bowls of Crispy Rice and pretend to be a fantastic mother. After the grief of divorce, we were still not a real mother. But we learned to be lovable and found someone who loves us. And after months of peeing on sticks, we laughed hysterically, because now we are a real mother!

…And I’m a real great-uncle!

Thanks to our storytellers Brittany, Matthew, David, Jackie, Marilyn, Brad, Nelson, Gayathri, and Charlie! Join us December 9 for kid stories. Should be brilliant. Pitch your story idea here!

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