About two weeks ago one of my best friends sent me an email saying, among many other things, that she'd recently started reading One Hundred Years of Solitude at my suggestion. I was ridiculously pleased that she was enjoying it and excited for her. Oh man, to be reading that book for the first time, half not even knowing what you're reading, just knowing that it's unbelievably beautiful and breathtakingly profound.
Then yesterday on tumblr I was so excited to see someone on my dash posting quotes from Marquez, as I am whenever I see a Marquez quote. But then I noticed that multiple people were posting them, and I had the sinking realization of "oh no, he must have died."
I. I actually cried a bit and sat around feeling vaguely sad and unable to do anything other than think about his novels and short stories for the better part of the night.
I have a mug in my cupboard that has the first line of One Hundred Years of Solitude on it. It has many other quotes on it, it's a "Great First Lines in Literature" mug, but I bought it because of the Marquez quote. I did not need this mug, I had too many mugs already, and bringing a coffee mug from America to South Korea and then back to America again the following year is pretty ridiculous, but I bought it anyway because of this quote:
"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
Every time I read that line it takes me back to the first time I read this book. Because even though it was years ago, I still remember opening this book for the first time, snuggled up under my comforter in bed in the first apartment I lived in after college and reading that opening sentence and thinking "Oh wow, this is going to be a good book. I have absolutely no idea what that means but I I really want to know."
I love Marquez so much and falling in love with One Hundred Years of Solitude kick-started my interest in visiting Latin America. I don't honestly know who I'd be if I hadn't gone to Guatemala in 2008. It's a trip that has influenced the course my life has taken since then in several regards. And, in turn, I absolutely wouldn't have taken that trip had I not gone on a trip to rural Costa Rica in 2007 and so much of my motivation in wanting to go on that first trip came from loving Marquez.
To this day, I don't know how to disentangle my love for Latin America from my love for One Hundred Years of Solitude and my love for Latin America has had such an impact on my life. Would I ever have started teaching English-as-a-second-language if not for Marquez? More than likely not. And who would I even be, in that case, without having spent two years in Americorps and three years in Korea?
As I was scrolling through all the Marquez quotes on tumblr yesterday and "liking" everything in sight, it occurred to me that I was liking a bunch of quotes in the original Spanish and that I wouldn't be able to understand them in Spanish if not for Marquez.
I studied Spanish in high school and for a year of college, just to fulfill my language requirement, but I wasn't passionate about really learning it until I read One Hundred Years of Solitude. I'm still not proficient enough to really read that book in Spanish, but that's how, more often than not, I state my Spanish-language goal. "Someday, I'd like to be able to confidently read One Hundred Years of Solitude in the original."
That goal still seems far off, especially after three years in Korea without any Spanish practice, but I'm hoping to spend a significant part of 2015 in Latin America, so perhaps I'll achieve it in the not-too-distant future after all. But, in the mean time, at least I can enjoy short passages and quotes in the original. So, I'll close with this Marquez quote and leave it to you to find the translation.
"La vida no es la que uno vivió, sino la que uno recuerda, y cómo la recuerda para contarla."
So thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, for providing part of the story that I tell about myself.