& I hope you’re learning to stay;

I could have turned back from the airport, grabbed my suitcases and headed home. I could’ve done it when the other girls looked askance at my sweatpants from their vantage point of boots and skinny jeans.

Instead, I boarded the plane and hoped for the best. Everything was new, none of us knew what the future held, and we were in for the adventure of our lives.

Although I couldn’t have stopped the nausea-inducing, turbulent plane ride to Portland, I could’ve turned back when we arrived. A three-hour drive in a rented car and I would’ve been home, the whole thing done and over with.

Instead, I stayed. I sat in the airport with my new best friends and a few other students who all but ignored us. Them versus us, already not what I had expected. Sitting in uncomfortable airport seats, we discussed our expectations, our pasts, our probable (hopeful?) futures.

And I got on the next plane, embracing what I thought would be the best experience of my life. Thirty-thousand feet above the Atlantic and the only one awake, I stared out the window with Sigur Ros in my ears. The sky was clear; the stars were amazing. It certainly felt like the cusp of something amazing. It felt like I was arriving.

I could have left, though, once the plane touched down. Once the entire day’s worth of travel was over, once we’d crossed time zones into another day, I could have turned back. In fact, I almost did – when I realized this was not, in fact, meeting my expectations for the best time of my life or my greatest adventure; when I did not cry upon stepping on foreign soil; when I did not forge lifelong relationships with every single person. When I broke my own heart a thousand times over, replacing the beauty of Italy with the ugliness of twenty-something drama and my own anxieties.

But I didn’t. At any time, I could have turned around, could have undone it all. Across the world isn’t so far away after all.

Except… I couldn’t. No matter what I did, there would be no undoing. The second I stepped out of my comfortable life, everything changed. I could have given up but Rome was already in my heart, travel already in my blood. It wasn’t exactly what I’d wanted, my tears came not from happiness and awe but from the opposite, but it was what I needed. There was no other way – and no turning back.

I’m participating in The Scintilla Project. Today’s prompt was “What have been the event horizons of your life – the moments from which there is no turning back?”


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