1996 was a year to mark in the mind of an impressionable eight-year-old girl.
My kid brother was born in May. I told my second grade class that when I wasn't there at school, it would mean he had come along. I knew that day was Tuesday, but I wanted to keep them in suspense. On Wednesday, I asked Mom if I could bring in blue cupcakes to announce the gender to my fellow students.
They didn't care if the cupcakes were blue or pink, they were just glad for the sugar.
It was also the year my dad was a cop in a Lifetime movie, Gone in the Night, originally created for NBC Primetime. It was shot in my neighborhood, and the whole of Roanoke Estates was abduction-crazy because that's what the story was about: a little girl who was my age getting abducted from a house that looked like my house in a neighborhood that was literally my neighborhood in the movie, and to add a cherry to all this, the set dresser gave her a comforter identical to the one on my bed.
Let's all watch Daddy in the movie and then head to bed. Sweet dreams.
But there was something else that happened that year, and it was my dad becoming obsessed with rock climbing. In the dead of January, he would pack our equipment in the back of the car, drive us to the Y, and throw us on a wall. It was amazing, thrilling, exhilarating, and I did it all to do my favorite part: repel down.
If you have never repelled, you have never lived.
My dad started to make plans to save up for Everest for himself, and we all went out to Long's Peak for a scouting of the trail and hike to see how hard it would be for two kids and a dad. The answer was too hard. We'd have to wait a few years.
1996 was also the year that the IMAX came to the city zoo. The IMAX was brand new around the world; the 90's version of the iPhone. It would be that fall when my third grade class went to see Dolphins or whatever that stupid movie was.
The IMAX was cool.
For anyone who knows anything about the IMAX, they know that one of their first documentaries was the buzzed-about film called Everest. It would hit theaters next year, and for the first time, IMAX was sending up a whole crew to make the trek. Wow.
You can imagine how happy my dad was.
And this all collided into a perfect storm on May 10th.
Now I don't know why it's our formative years that shape us as storytellers or even as human beings, but for some reason, now in 2015, when I see Jan and Rob sobbing on the phone to each other in this fall's Everest, I feel like I remember it happening. I feel like I had been there.
I feel my heart breaking all over again.
See, the movie that was being shot down the street? That was all fake to me. But there was a documentary crew that captured a man's death. There was a woman just as pregnant as my own mom, and she was sobbing on the phone. Sarah. She named the baby Sarah.
And watching the adaptation tonight in theaters, I don't know what I think. It puts all these other "based on a true story"'s into perspective.
A true story is thicker than a fictional one, I think. Because you can walk away from a fictional one. I still ache over Sirius Black, but I know he was created for me to do that. I still can't deal with Rob dying on a mountain. Because he really did exist.
My brother was born ten days after Rob died. My dad gave up on Everest. We never made it to Long's Peak. Our lives continued on, but that image of Jan and Rob on the phone kept with me.
And I wonder now, walking out of the theater and seeing Keira Knightly playing Jan ... I wonder if we do a service to them by retelling their story, or if in some way, it's a little sick.
What is this?
Dawson is an editor and writer and MFA student at Stonecoast. She writes stuff.