It was back in 2007.
I was in a rented condominium in Baltimore. Most of my time had been spent trying to talk with family members or my girlfriend in my hometown in Alaska--trying to talk about how I felt and "how everything was going." It was always the same thing that I told them: "Sometimes good, sometimes bad. We're hoping good." But everyone knew the futility of saying it.
Most nights, I had the apartment to myself while my grandfather and my uncle went to bed; I could never sleep. I was underage in a city I had no interest in knowing, but knew I had to get out somehow. The internet, ironically, was the best option for escaping the confines of the apartment, the lime green walls, the putrid taste disinfectant. I had to get out without going anywhere.
I think it was the third day on the east coast when I finally noticed on IGN or some shit: "Red vs Blue making its 100 episode." Before this, I had only one brief encounter with Red vs Blue--a fellow traveler on the bus I took made quotes that no one else seemed to get. I had nothing left to lose and I was tired of listening to my dad's tracks from "The Band's Greatest Hits."
I watched the first 25 episodes in one sitting before realizing it was 2 am. I had to go to sleep on the couch-bed those nights.
After that, things seemed to get a bit better. I smiled more, especially after realizing how many times I had seen Dr. Montgomery's mustache hanging low over his chin. I liked him. I think everyone did. Even my father, and he was a tough guy to crack.
After the incident in which my father told us about the moving painting he had been given for his room, I took to watching Red vs Blue again. It was getting difficult to control my laughter at night. But it was easier to be a teenager, then, as my uncle and grandfather were also cracking jokes. "Hey, there's the early riser!" and "You know, brunch ends at 10 at McDonald's." Stupid family humor, but I laughed anyway. It made everyone comfortable.
It was always cold in Baltimore, even on the good days. I had to wait in the lobby a lot. The smell usually got to me. And I wasn't sure I could look my dad straight in the eye for very long: while everything was a "success" there were still complications. There was one night I had to sleep in the same room as my dad. The next morning, sweat radiated off of me like a dewy golf field as I was asked to leave as soon as possible for exercises.
After breakfast, I slept the rest of my morning on the couch bed.
The last night I was there, I had completed everything there was to watch on Red vs Blue. And I cried. I was just so relieved that there was still so much good to be shown, even through all the bad.
The day my flight left for home, I said good bye to my father for the last time. It would be the one time I would get to see him after he had entered the ICU when his donated kidney began rejecting him. It was the first and last time I would see my father cry, and it was one of the many times I let him see me cry. I told him I'd see him soon and I left Baltimore.
My father did not.
A year later, after ashes had been spread and prayers given, a phoenix rose; long lost friends--from another life, perhaps--had been found. Here. On this site. I was terrified and nervous my first real life meet-up, but even then and many times afterwards, I always received the feeling of being myself. I felt I could share the love, wonder, and humor with everyone, while still carrying the cross of guilt and regret over losing a loved one, but not alone. I saw... family.
I want to give back to my family. I want to give back to Burnie, Joel, Geoff, Gus, and Matt; to Jason, Kathleen, Yomary, and Rebecca. To Jack, Michael, Lindsey, Barb, Miles, Chris, Blaine, Aaron, Shannon...And Monty. I want to give back to the people who worked their tail end off to give you quality laughs after quality cheers and would have inevitably led me to YOU. My friends. Who are, beyond a doubt, the craziest, wildest, bunch of hooligans to ever place the word "fan" in front of any form of personal pronoun while using a sentence.
And Goddamn, do I love you.
I am a Guardian, because I choose to give back to a group of people who sweat, and tear, and claw their way towards their passion--whatever their calling in life. I am a Guardian because I am inspired in the way everyone--whether you are part of the company or the community--spreads humor and happiness.