I’m not what anyone would call particularly gutsy. I’m a bit of an indoor girl unless we’re talking sand, salt water and margaritas, and whenever I do have to go out and do something I look forward to going home, shucking my pants and clearing the calendar like it’s a chorus of angels celebrating me home.
When I was a teenager this homebody soul of mine made me feel a little like a bum. Friends wanted to go out. My sister clucked at me as she passed on her way out the door.
I was boring. Terribly whatever with just being sixteen and not saying the right things or wanting the same ones. I had books and my headphones and let my imagination go. I was soaring away there and didn’t need to be here.
Until the day I wanted one particular adventure with every beat, every breath. I sat on a couch watching a movie where a girl went somewhere else and I suddenly, inexplicably knew that I needed to go, too.
There’s not many places for a girl who is living with her parents and going to community college to go, but still. There was a whisper drumming in my head and I couldn’t quiet it.
My college had an honors society that I was part of in name, and every year they went on a trip for spring break. And the sign up was that very week. Stars were aligning before I even found out where they were going.
I could barely breathe around the dominoes falling as I chased them. I could do this. I could go somewhere else.
So, the nervous, twitchy girl went to the office to sign up, but she discovered that the trip was so popular there would be a lottery deciding who could go. The price for the flights, hotels and tours for two weeks was all under a thousand and I had just enough in savings. I nodded and signed my name and I let myself do the most dangerous thing.
I went to my next class and then the next and for days I waited for word. Waited to be picked back after making such a huge stride out of my norm. I, the hobbit girl who never wanted a wizard to tell her to go kill a dragon, had signed up to go to another country.
With strangers. On a plane across an ocean when I’d never been on a plane to anywhere.
I paced and I waited. I went back to the office, cleared my throat, wiped my sweaty hand and asked.
I wasn’t picked. It wasn’t my name on the list. I nodded and left.
Of course I wasn’t picked. Girls like me were never picked. We go home and put our headphones back on and we pretend. We write and we read and we do well enough in our classes to be in honor societies in name, but not really in practice.
So, I went home. I told my parents and then I went to my room and dropped back on my bed and looked at the ceiling and cried fat, useless tears.
I wasn’t picked. I wouldn’t go. And that was okay, because I’d tried.
Except it wasn’t this time. Not for this one thing. Somewhere in my hobbit heart I knew this one would be mine. This was meant to be a chapter in my story and it would be written by my own hand. I went back to that office, cleared my throat and asked if there was any way I could go. The secretary checked all the paperwork and told me there were a few slots outside of the lottery, but were more expensive. Still totally cheaper than doing this trip on my own, but more than I had.
I told her yes. That slot was mine.
I went home and cried different tears and I reached out for help. My Abuelo and godfather came through for me in the biggest, most impossible ways, and they gave wings to a nineteen year-old girl who suddenly needed to go and do something outside of herself. My godfather who once told me to always chase my bliss.
I tucked that advice into my luggage and swallowed every last fear and anxiety as Craig drove me to campus where a bus would be taking the entire group down to Miami to fly out to Italy. Time started to blend together. My own reflection started to blur and still somehow I went.
Those are my memories, written with my own shaking hand. Where I would have stopped and shrugged off the dream as belonging to someone else, someone who gets picked back, I didn’t. I picked that dream and it was mine.
My spot. My story.
And here almost ten years later I’m the happy hobbit chasing after kids whose laugh sends my heart into my throat taking them on adventures to mountains and beaches, Neverland and Tatooine. And maybe I’m not particularly gutsy.
But when my gut sings? I chase.
Cause I’m still running toward my bliss.