Last year, I went somewhere by myself. I drove, navigated, and picked up a strange man at the train station. We hugged and threw his luggage in my already overly-packed Mini Cooper. Then we drove to a parking lot because I have no sense of direction and I desperately needed a cigarette, and we needed to set some kind of GPS to yell at me while I drove.
This story may sound like something other than two internet friends meeting for the first time to attend a writing conference. It was indeed two internet strangers meeting for the first time to attend a writing conference. It was my first adventure by myself. I drove with music blaring and the sunroof open. I had my arsenal filled with several packs of Camel cigarettes, and three suitcases too many.
I don’t pack light. I don’t know how. I learned my lesson for why I need to pack lighter. Dragging every outfit you own, plus a makeup and toiletry kit, a shoe bag, and a fun bag miles across a strange campus taught me how I didn’t need nearly half those bags. My nerves were frayed, spliced, and starting to become disconnected. I had driven from West Virginia into Baltimore.
I did need a friend. Luckily, the strange guy I picked up at the train station ended up being one of my now closest and best friends. You know him as Punk. I know him as Punk too. We have matching friendship bracelets. They say “Punk” and “Misfit”.
In a few short days I will take another adventure by myself.
Therapist Lady thinks this will be good for me. She said, “Rachel, there is a whole big world out there to see.” She asked me what I’d like to see. I told her Versailles. She said to scale it down a little. I had already booked my flight to see Punk. I guess staying stateside and going to see my best friend and his family for a few days is a good adventure.
I’m pretty nervous.
Airplane shit. Packing to go on The Many Different Airplanes. How do I fit so many things into a carry-on? Will my fake hair set off the metal detectors? Please, please, please, don’t let me miss a flight. Find the gates. I send more prayers into the sky and ask not to be seated next to any crazy, chatty psycho killers on any flights.
Leaving on a jet plane for the first time by myself.
I’ve changed since last year, friend. I hope you recognize the Misfit walking through the gate. I’m different. Prozac different. Broken-hearted some. Spirit patch-worked together, my smile is dimmer. Words are silent when people are around.
A few sangrias and rum, the words will come.
I haven’t seen the North since I went to Rhode Island to look at a law school. My accent will sound strange. They will ask if I’m southern. I will correct them.
Appalachian. We’re proud of that heritage.
An Appalachian girl traveling on her first plane ride by herself to see her friend. To meet his family and spend time seeing his life.
“Cheers to the great big world.”
I can’t wait to see it.
To laugh. To drink.
To make new memories.