I have a horrible memory sometimes, a lot of times, but I often have things that will remind me of something or someone who won’t let me forget, neither of them are necessarily bad things.
Today I was reminded of one very important thing, which is that 7 years ago today, I got on a plane to Florida and met up with a good friend who I had only met online. It might seem simple, getting to meet someone in person, but I had spent months knowing this person. She had read my writing (taught me more about grammar than I ever learned in school, probably ~.~ ), I had read hers, and we were one of those groups of people who were tired of being seen as crazy and were just happy being crazy yet understood!
This was also me relocating my entire life, since that was the trip that led to the next chapter in my life, Texas. Now instead of flying to Texas to move in with my then roommate, I flew to Florida so my friend and I could do a roadtrip from FL to TX.
So much happened ❤ for starters, I didn't even have a cellphone of my own when I got on that plane, so naturally, I was worried about whether I could find my friend (…I get lost easily…on my way to the bathroom…in whatever building you can imagine). The person who sat next to me on the plane, a total stranger, someone who had been visiting family in PR, let me use his cellphone to make sure I wouldn't be left alone at the airport.
He even encouraged me to call my mom so she'd know I arrived to FL safely. (Further proof how the kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me.)
I remember the moment I spotted my friend. I thanked the kind stranger for his help and then set off running towards my friend. Now the goal had been to jump her and possibly pin her to the floor. What actually happened was that I jumped her, slid off her, until my butt touched the floor and I was clinging to her leg.
I'm pretty sure it looked as hilarious as it felt, but what do I know?
I also remember watching White Christmas for the first time. I remember going to a Hooters for the first time. Having my first Frozen Cranberry Slush from Sonic. I remember feeling terrified of being so far from home, such an odd feeling to have your entire life just moved around. I remember waking up that first morning wondering if that actually happened or if I'd open my eyes to my old room and be able to kiss my mom's forehead good morning.
I don't think I would've stayed as calm, as happy, or hopeful, if my friend hadn't been there, with her dry humor I just can't match and a sarcasm so quick, even my brain would have to do a replay.
She always likes to keep my wide-eyed optimism in check.
Her mom joined us for the roadtrip which was actually all kinds of amusing – especially once I was given permission to put my own music on the radio. I'm pretty sure Glee's rendition of a lot of songs traumatized them for life (hahahaha, it's an acquired taste, I admit). I also remember the hilarity of my constant question of "Is this the Mississippi River?" and the ACTUAL time we crossed it, it was my friend who said, "Aren't you going to ask the question?" …I had no idea what she was talking about. We were driving over an ocean. Or rather, what I thought was an ocean, 'cause it was flippin' huge.
"This is the Mississippi River."
And that's when I learned, rivers in the US? Noooooot remotely close to the size of a river in Puerto Rico. And good thing, too, 'cause the rivers back home are clear and have the peaceful sound of a quiet stream. That river…as wondrous as it was, looked murky? Just a bit.
And then my first time eating Gumbo – well, first, let me explain. I love well-seasoned food. It's my foooood. Puerto Rican food is basically the use of sofrito and adobo and seasonings. Lots of seasonings. Cajun food? Yes, please!
It was a buffet-style restaurant, but I could tell by the smell that I was going to be very happy there – and my stomach did not disagree.
I remember enjoying everything (mmm, dirty rice) but one thing most of all, a soup that had no name, or label, and since I was willing to eat all things Cajun, I was brave enough to have some. It. Was. Amazing. I had no idea what it was, what was in it, but it was flavorful, spicy and warm all at the same time.
Now, I don't talk to strangers, at least, not easily, or willingly, and I have to be in the happiest of moods, so happy that I'm almost giddy. That day, I spoke to the nice lady who handled our order and I remember telling her how much I enjoyed the jalapeño soup. She looked very confused when she asked me what soup I meant. I explained, a bit worried, because surely, those were jalapeños, riiiight?
Nope. Okra. And that was a gumbo, I would later learn. It was still delicious (and I would later, many years later, get to enjoy homemade gumbo, made by my boyfriend’s dad…and it was amaaaaazing.)
New Orleans was a rare, beautiful visit ❤ it was a place I mostly knew about due to reading Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles – wonderful books, beautifully written, to the point where you lived in the pages, with the characters, feeling every feeling, seeing every scenery.
The fact that I got to see New Orleans, and that they maintain so much of the beauty I read about in those books, it was a marvel, really.
The drive to TX was long, so long, and when we finally arrived to my destination…well, I'd like to say this memory has a happy ending. That everything was amazing. It wasn't. I remember my friend telling me she and her mom wanted to tell me to get back in the car and drive back to FL.
It was a very…small town. A very, very small town – something I remember being told, but silly me, I never did the research to understand, in truth, how small it was.
I made the best of it, though, even though the roommate situation didn't pan out – we were far more different than I could have eeeeever imagined, felt like I had just been hired as a live-in-maid without my own knowledge – I have to say, I'm happy I pushed through the fear.
Because, yeah, I was afraid. That whole time, through every decision, every mornings waking up wondering if I could change things, improve things, overcome things. Then, eventually, "if" became "can" and "can" became "will" and finally "will" became "did".
Life got to the point that I just asked myself one question, through every trial, why the fuck not? Haha. What I mean is, if you don't try, you'll never do anything, and if you don't stop trying, then you won't fail. I know it sounds corny, man, I thought it sounded corny when teachers would tell me sayings of a similar nature but…I lived it. I did it. And I still keep trying, taking it one day at a time, and that's why I'll always remember the day I got on that plane.
Things didn't go according to plan, but they got better.