last, last, last

There’s a strange climate around the talk of “lasts”: the last home basketball game, the last round of midterms, the last spring break, the last semester of university, you get the gist. Oh sure, people will laugh and pump their fists when they speak of these lasts, taking inspiration from the finality of the whole ordeal to prompt themselves and others to live it up, reminding everyone that, you know, YOLO. And then people will laugh at the use of the phrase, “YOLO,” probably make fun of the individual that said it and go on smiling and joking and pushing the actuality of the lasts to the backs of their minds.

Truthfully, lasts are kind of scary. So whenever someone brings them up, I do the laughing, joking thing and pretend like it isn’t actually the last time I get a week off of work to hang out with my friends or the last time I’ll ever cram for a midterm or the last time I’ll ever get to start my day at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

Crossing my fingers that that last one isn’t entirely true.

But the truly strange thing about lasts is what it does to our ideas about how these last things should go. It shouldn’t, but these lasts make the events attached to the word carry more weight than they usually would – suddenly, we find ourselves burdened with the pressure to make this last year, last semester, last spring break, last week of school the best that it has ever been. Any diversion from the plan of perfection makes our already unstable senior mental state plummet as we search to place blame on non-existent reasons to explain why life went differently than how we thought it should.

What a pity.

Even being aware of the effect that the dreaded word has on me does not shield me from the harrowing results of the L-word being uttered. It starts innocently enough, with a well-intentioned adult asking me how my l*** year of university is going and suddenly my palms are sweaty, my mind is racing and my mouth is blurting out unfiltered words like “internship” and “find a job” and “hopefully”. This seems to appease the adult crowd well enough, as I’ve found that anything having to do with you conducting an “aggressive job search” are the key words that they need to hear so that they smile approvingly and leave you well alone, their fears of being related to a backpack-laden, couch surfing, jobless youth assuaged.

Yet this is not how I want to live out my… er… final year of university – shielded behind shallow words and mindless conversations with adults or jokes and hesitant laughs that deter the reality of the impending moment where we trade in our sweats for suits and our red cups for black ties. Surely not realising that it is over until it’s, well, over is worse than accepting it all now and living as though the word “last” was nothing more important than a word paired with “call” at 2 o’clock in the morning?

Indeed, the idea of lasts only exists in a bounded mind-set. While this may be the “last” time we enjoy a spring break – a time for freedom, friends and travel – this is surely not the last time we encounter those elements associated with spring break. And while we may be saying goodbye to the precise experiences of cramming for tests and cohabitating with friends and winning trivia night at your local pizza bar, it is definitely not the last time we will feel the emotions, thoughts and feelings that accompany those singular events in our lives.

This kind of thinking is how I, at least, find a way to stop myself from rambling and blabbering and laughing and joking when I hear the word “last” describing an experience this year. To remind myself that ending my time here at Gonzaga is not an end to the beautiful things that have happened because of it. It is not the last time I will try to think profoundly and discuss things deeply and laugh at something way harder than need be and make jokes that no one laughs at whatsoever and feel love and kindness and harmony. For these sorts of things, the word “last” does not exist.

Phew.

the greatest thing you’ll ever learn…

Questions and uncertainty about life after Gonzaga is the most beautiful gift I could give myself.

I can’t even explain to you all how many times I’ve been asked, “So, what are your plans for next year?” Every time an adult aged 40 years or older finds out that I am in my last year of university. A slight jolt of fear runs through me as my mind whispers to me, “I don’t know yet!” But then I compose myself and go on to tell, with much gusto, of the internship I’m currently interviewing for, all of the industries I’d like to see myself in, the kind of work I’d eventually like to do.

As I walk away from conversations like those, I feel the strange ache of falsity. Indeed, I do want to work in the arts somehow and I am interviewing for a great internship and I do want to work with passion in my future, but somehow spilling it all out like a rehearsed pitch to strangers and family members alike makes it seem like less of my own desires that I am fervently blabbing on about and more what I believe these people want to hear me say I want in my future, my job, my life.

While I eventually do want to reach all of the points that I speak about to those who ask me just what I plan on doing after I am released into this big, bright world, I find myself holding back from the ultimate truth. I want to tell them that I don’t have it all figured out just yet and that I’m okay with this and that, yes I’d like to land a big job with a big company one day, right now I’d just like to travel and write and explore and learn.

But as soon as this slips out, as soon as I shrug my shoulders and say, “I think I’ll just hop around Europe for a bit,” the smiles seem to slip and the eyes seem to widen and their next answer is usually sugary sweet and accompanied by a big smile, “Well, isn’t that nice?” And then they slink away, not daring to be seen with the second semester senior who hasn’t quite got their life squared away.

I’ve gotten used to this and, while it hasn’t made me rethink what I’m planning on doing, it does make me wonder about all the paths that lay in front of me as February ushers in March, who welcomes April, whose rainy climate begs on May to come and save us all. As I set down my last pen on my last final that first week of May, the one road that I’ve been steadily rolling down comes to a head with another. This other road has fancy adverts and withered postings and alluring offers that all plead with us to choose that one or this one or those ones. The risks and benefits are never fully drawn out and one has to choose their road based on the influences that life has breathed down their necks: you’ve got to travel and see the world while you’re young, while you can, while there’s nothing else in your way! Or This economy’s tough, you need to get a good job, pay off your loans, start saving up, be responsible. Or Just listen to yourself and decide what you really want to do, what do you want to be?

Each path, each decision carries with it the weight of every voice that has ever told you how you should choose your own future and what that decision means. From our parents to our professors to our culture to our peers, it is incredibly easy to forget that we ourselves have the most important voice when it comes to our futures. Advice from others is calming and invaluable at times, but in the end it is I who gets to buy that ticket, live that life, find that truth. As I look ahead to my life after Gonzaga, I see my future lined with big question marks, big dreams and fantastical ideas. To me, that is the most beautiful thing I could ever hope to see.

To London: a ballad of love and doubt

I had never believed in love at first sight. But in 2009, I went to London. And it reinforced these beliefs. My time there as a mere sophomore in high school was rotten in my eyes – the weather was blisteringly hot, our location was less than ideal and I was more focused on what I was missing out on at home rather than was I could have been experiencing in London.

Always the believer in second chances, I revisited the idea of London as the greatest city in the world a bit later on in 2012. While this trip included milder conditions, a more posh locale and less worries about the folks back home, the city still failed to wow me like I had been promised to be wowed – where was the glamorous dirt and grime, the tenuous balance of beauty and grotesque, the old and new twisting together to form one unique city?

Then I came here for a third time. This is when I fell in love. This is when I was here long enough to spot all of the beauty and all of the terrible in one walk to work. When I could sort out the best and the worst and choose to focus on the best, relying on the worst to make the best appear better. This is where I dove deep into a city that was begging to be tapped into. Where friends and arts and culture waited for me to get beyond the sightseeing and spectacle gazing and oohing and ahhing and to delve deeply into the joys that come from late buses and rainy walks and delayed Tube lines.

And now I’m back for a fourth time.

I am here on business, taking a weeklong break from school to learn through meetings and dealings and interactions rather than through PowerPoint slides and hour-long lectures.

I’ll admit, I was a bit wary to be coming back to this place that gave me so much my last time. I learned quite a lot here and I was almost scared that I would return to find a city that was just that – a city. A place that held so much magic because of who I was with and what I was doing, not because of what it actually was in and of itself.

Luckily, I was wrong.

The moment I stepped off of the plane and walked the long and tiring walk to customs, I couldn’t wipe this goofy grin off of my face because I could feel it in my swollen feet all the way up to my ruffled hair – the feeling that this city is as electric as I had known it to be since the very first time I saw London for what it was, the beautiful mixture of old and new, of grime and splendour. So as soon as I reached the hotel, I dumped my stuff into my room, took a quick shower and immediately hopped back onto the London streets and explored my new surroundings.

Red double-deckers rushed by, small cars honked incessantly at each other and at pedestrians, dogs pulled at the leases of their wary owners, struggling to juggle their pets and their lattes. I couldn’t help but smile as I waited to cross the road and cars whirled by, refusing to stop for the lone pedestrian, when to think that at school, cars would come to a quick halt to accommodate the harried student on their way to class.

I don’t know why, but I loved the whooshing of the cars speeding by, ignorant to my waiting for a clear path. It made me feel like a distinct part of the city, not stopping or slowing anything down, a part of something whole, like partners working together in a synchronised dance that welcomed anybody ready to curtsey and bow as directed to keep the music flowing.

While I am only here for five days before I jet off to Frankfurt, I need only the fervent and passionate melody that I hear as I walk the streets of London to reinforce the tale that I sing back to the city – adding to the music, adding to the story.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spokane Mind

On the role of fate, chance and choice in life and how to go from there

On Saturday, I watched Run Lola Run. On Sunday, I watched the Super Bowl. Together, they helped me understand the supposed workings of this world – of the role that chance, fate and determination play in the living of one’s life.

The German film Run Lola Run (Tykwer 1998) begins by comparing the living of life to playing a game and asks the question, “Is life a series of determined fateful encounters or can one use one’s free will to carve out their own path?” As we focus on this question, the film opens on Lola, who has twenty minutes to find one hundred thousand marks for her small-time criminal boyfriend, Manni. Three times, Lola is able to relive a failed attempt to retrieve the money. In each scenario, as Lola bumps into people in her rushed twenty minutes, we are given insight into these people’s lives – each future different as Lola encounters them at a slightly different time and place. Some people, however, seem to be destined to live out their initial fate no matter how differently Lola encounters them. The film’s answer to its initial question is that life is a rather complicated combination of fate, chance and choice.

This was my second time watching the film – a frenzied action film that makes it impossible to be doing anything else except to closely watch the movie to see how large of an effect microscopic temporal changes can have on the characters’ lives. Also it’s a German film, so you have to check out the subtitles to keep up. As the credits began to roll, I thought about the philosophy that the movie purported: that life is really a toss up between fate and free will, some outcomes can be avoided, while others cannot. All in all, a film where the main character is able to hop backwards in time and change her own and others’ lives makes for a message that is a bit hard to fully wrap my head around as I exit the filmmaker’s world and re-enter the real world. I went to sleep still pondering the meaning of the movie and all of its implications – for, if some things are irrevocably fated, how should one know when to stop fighting this fate and focus on the things that can be changed?

After a rather philosophical night, I awoke Sunday morning ready to eat some Velveeta cheese dip, analyse the famous Super Bowl advertisements and watch some guys bump into each other and throw a (hopefully properly inflated) ball. After a couple hours, a few chipfulls of cheese dip and an oddly depressing Nationwide commercial, the Seahawks were primed to win the Super Bowl. A call, a throw, a tenth of a second and an ill-placed player brought that outcome crashing to the ground. And in the hands of a Patriot, no less.

Though those couple hours after the game were filled with what-ifs and why-thats, after my emotions subsided, I began to realise that nothing quite illustrated the points of Run Lola Run like the football game that we had just watched. A perfect, if not disappointing, mix of fate, chance and choice was at the root of it all. Sure, it’s all orchestrated and strategy plays into the game, but in the end, why did that Patriot run one way and not the other? Why was the call made to pass and not to hand off? Why did that ball go exactly there when, were it thrown a tenth of a second earlier or later, it would have been a decidedly different outcome?

Herein lies the point of the film, which football helped me to understand (this makes sense, as the beginning of the film draws parallels to life and game). Life, as a large empty skeleton, happens as it should, as it is fated to. Life’s occurrences, the bits that add substance to the skeletal structure, are co-created by chance and choice – things happen and we are faced with a choice about how to push onward. As Lola got three chances to rewrite her story, so are we given multiple opportunities to push toward the outcome we desire.

Life may be the larger skeleton of it all, but it is us who are given the opportunity to decide what to do with such a large and empty space.

eternal sunshine of the spokane mind

The art of walking with nowhere to go and nothing to see, perfected.

“Want to go for a walk?” I’ve found myself asking this question more and more frequently in the past week – to my roommate, my cat, myself, anyone who will listen, really. I’m not sure what it is about it, but there is something refreshing about taking time out of a day crammed with homework, classes and other nonsense worries and just ambling about with nothing in particular to discuss and nowhere in particular to go.

It is here that I find myself, in the middle of a walk on the Centennial Trail with my housemate beside me, my hands bunched up in my pockets and my shoulders shooting up to protect my neck from the cold front. But somehow, the cold does not really matter after a couple of minutes and I find myself blissfully and slowly making my way forward, nodding at strangers, gazing into the cascading river waters and placidly discussing the oddities and singularities of life as a student, as a senior, as those who aren’t quite sure what life after May is going to look like.

Along the way, I see other people walking (usually matronly couples about 50 years my senior), more dedicated people running, either in packs or alone, businesspeople taking a lunchtime stroll, discussing strategy and office gossip, an elderly man walking an absurdly tiny dog in a pink sweater, a solo walker who appears to be lost in a daydream or else solving an impossible mathematical equation in her head. There are couples and big groups and families and people who are walking alone. Some of them smile, others just look and most keep staring at the concrete folding out in front of them.

As I’m rounding the carousel, I can’t help but think of the story that each of these people carries with them, each a swirl of humanity captured in one smile or frown or pair of averted eyes. The merry-go-round spins and echoes of screaming laughter permeate the grey quarters of Spokane in January. I look over and the laughter turns the corners of my lips up into a smile, it does the same to my housemate, a smile and a laugh joining the echoes. The man with his tiny dog smiles too. The couple with their heads together, whispering a rushed and urgent conversation, turn their heads toward the carousel and crease their foreheads at the sound.

A brief moment: a smile, a laugh and a frown. We don’t know if it means anything at all, but we spend the rest of our walk discussing the events of our walk as though it was a delicately directed scene from a film. But that was exactly the irony of it – we can find definite meaning and underlying themes in a movie scene because it is scripted, written, acted, vetted, edited and screened to an audience. And critics and audience members alike get to pick it over until there is nothing left but a clean list of themes, scenes, lines and Academy snubs.

Life, however, is exactly the opposite – a chaotic crashing of moments, stitched together to make sense of unscripted, unedited, unscreened events. Nothing happens because a director off-screen calls, “Action!” or “Cut!” Stuff happens because I decided to get out of bed this morning, put on some warm clothes and go for a walk. And it seems a lot of other people decided to do that too. And together, our decisions created the crashes, the clashes, the stitches that comprise what we call a day.

My friend and I reach the end of the loop, still pouring over the stitches of our day. We decide that we need another go around to fully make sense of it all. We have nowhere to go, nothing to do and nothing, really, to talk about, so we keep walking and walking, our minds on the lives we’re living instead of the pile of homework and unread books at home. As it should be.

working title.

Is the magic of studying – or even being – abroad a feeling that we ourselves produce?

Last year, I got my first tattoo, cut off all my hair and gallivanted around Europe for a semester. And now I’m walking through slush. A year ago, I daresay that I would have marvelled at slush – how magical, how wonderful, how positively incredible slush is! At least when it’s in England, eh? Indeed, as forty-eight percent of Gonzaga students know, the aftereffects of returning home from time spent away from our beloved campus carries back with us quite the harrowing feeling.

Our lives, or more our Facebook feeds, were once filled with exotic locales and daring adventures. I could wake up one morning and walk beside the Thames, if I so desired. And then post it to Instagram and smile as people across the pond expressed their jealousy and wish to be where I was. And now I am that person across the Atlantic, gazing at pictures of faraway friends and wishing that I were there too. I realized soon enough that this was quite the sad picture I was painting for myself, and as I walked through the decidedly dreary Spokane slush, I began to wonder if slush was really that different a couple thousand miles away.

After many very scientific studies, my colleagues and I have concluded that slush is actually much the same no matter the location. I admit, when I first heard the results, I was aghast. Why, then, did it feel so much more satisfying to splash through the sludgy substance with glee and enthusiasm over there while I manage to bear a striking resemblance to Grumpy Cat over here?

After another slew of backbreaking research, I have come to find that because we are expected to have fun every second, minute and hour of our lives abroad, we become our own self-fulfilling prophecy. We have told ourselves in anticipation over and over again that the coming five months will be the most exciting of our lives, that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that fun must be had at all times or else that opportunity is being frivolously wasted. And as a result, we end up finding joy in slush and rain and cold weather merely because we have forced ourselves to do so. Which brought up another intriguing question: why aren’t we doing that here, too?

Going abroad isn’t necessarily about the city that you’re going to, but the experience that you’re expecting to have, the things that you can learn, the people that you can meet. This might sounds crazy at first, but honestly we can do a lot of that here, as well. Shocking, I know.

To be clear, I am not discouraging going abroad – I had a hoot and a half over there – but more, I am questioning how those of us who are not currently engaging in the pleasure of gallivanting around a foreign country can see Spokane, or any city, as a place where just as much discovery, magic and enchantment can occur. This column intends to address this question throughout the semester – investigating how everyday life can turn into the same highlight reel that the folks across the pond are producing.

My initial instinct is this: to be able to view every day as one filled with magic, one must first believe that it is possible. And I’ll take my first step by eyeing the slush around my car as a splendid opportunity to test out my new rainboots. I’ll let you know how it goes.

how to summarise?

The last of the fourteen columns that I wrote for my school newspaper during the Spring 2013 semester from London.

LONDON – I worried, fretted, thought about backing out. Wondered how easy it would be to kindly ask for my visa back. Knew I had to go.

Went.

Met my future best friends on the first night. Almost all got run over by a car coming from our right instead of from our left. We were leaving McDonald’s. Oops.

Did touristy things. Wondered if I’d ever have alone time. Had alone time. Didn’t like it when I was alone. That was different.

Thought about how long four months is. Planned trips with my new best friends. Went on trips with my new best friends. Cooked in the kitchen with my new best friends. Sung in the kitchen with my new best friends. Drank in the kitchen with my new best friends. Cried in the kitchen with my new best friends. Four months can be short too.

Longed for when I could start my internship. Tapped my toes impatiently. Started my internship. Wondered where all my free time went. Found out what next year is going to be like. Tried to stop time. Time can’t be stopped.

Found out my friends and I have the sleeping patterns of our grandparents. Discovered we were okay with this. Talked about life, experience, the future. Tried not to think about the very near future.

Three months can be short too.

Crossed my weeks off until work would be over. Realized I was counting down until London was over. Stopped crossing off weeks.

Introduced my new best friends to my home best friend. Thought about how people are the same all over the world. Wondered why we have to be separated by things like time, distance, religion, prejudice. Still haven’t found the answer.

Started replacing Zs with Ss in words like ‘realise’. Changed my settings to British English. No more red lines. Realised I had shin splints from walking to work every morning. Thought about how I drove three blocks to Safeway last semester. Resolved to walk more. And buy more comfortable shoes.

Flourished at work. Found that my eyes were clouded when looking at myself. Learned to accept compliments. And give them too. Saw that confidence drives success. Puffed my chest out. Got pooped on. Kept my chest where it should be. Saw that humility actually drives success. Didn’t get pooped on again.

Went to a work party. They ordered too much champagne. Stumbled home from a work party. Saw them all through my sunglasses the next morning. They offered me their Advil. Wished I could take back the crossed off weeks.

One month is a short time.

Talked with my friends about things we still need to do. Didn’t do them. Instead did stupid things with my friends. Wondered if I was getting the “full” study abroad experience. Turned on my iTunes. “It’s not where I am, it’s who I’m with”. Didn’t wonder anymore.

Last day of work. Had a picnic and talked about my future. Realised the picture I’ve been painting for 21 years has been erased. Found out I’m okay with that. Learned to embrace it. Thought about painting London there next. But a year is a long way away. It’s goodbye for now. Who’d have thought work could be so fun?

Travelled too much. Packed too much in my backpack. Packed too much in my schedule. Time raced away from me. Tried living in the past and in the future. Found out that the present is the only place to be. Time slowed down. Life is bittersweet.

And a week is too short.

Or is it?

Soon, London won’t be my home. Soon, I won’t be surrounded by my new friends. Soon, my Google app will call Spokane my home and my iPhone will call Pacific my time zone. Soon, I’ll get to climb again. Soon, I’ll cry when I think about my new friends. Soon, I’ll long for London. Soon. But not now.

Now, I live.

You can’t be what you can’t see

Why living and working abroad is important

LONDON – As my loyal readers (my dad and my cat) will know, I have spent the past eight weeks working at an arts marketing firm in Southeast London acting as an intern and second pair of hands for the five person crew.

Since being brought on mid-February, I’ve had the opportunity to live tweet the launch of a UK-wide project, draw up a consultancy brief for an up-and-coming client, offer my views on event names and attend meetings for large-scale projects.

And to think that on my first day, I was stressing out about messing up their tea.

Before I came abroad, I thought I’d pieced the puzzle together. Everything seemed to line up – what I wanted to do, where I wanted to live, how my future would probably play out. It was neat and tidy and, in my mind, there was definitely a pretty little bow on top.

That was, until I started work at The Cogency. Led by two powerhouse women, the five person arts marketing company takes on projects that a huge corporation would cower over. But “I can’t” simply isn’t in The Cogency’s vernacular. Except maybe, “I can’t resist another cup of coffee”. Seriously, the coffee is overflowing there.

As you can imagine, it was a pretty intimidating office to waltz into.

But quite contradictorily, I was suddenly laden with the thought of “I can’t” after my first harried week of work. I’d never worked in the arts before, much less in arts marketing, much less in the arts capital of the world! How am I supposed to know how to advise clients on what they should and should not do? How is my view valid amidst my dedicated and intellectual coworkers? How is some 21-year-old small town American undergraduate qualified to be working and living in London?

And what if I mess up their tea?

However, I signed a contract that solidified my eight-week commitment in cold hard legality, so I ignored my feelings of inferiority and allowed myself to become a part of The Cogency team – eliminating “I can’t” from my vocabulary and thoughts.

And now here I sit, finished with my time at The Cogency and wondering where I would have been had I had the freedom to walk out of the door. Probably back where I was before – thinking that my puzzle was perfectly arranged, painting glue over it to seal it in all its puzzling perfection.

To work abroad is to shine a light on a darkness that you didn’t even know was there.

After my time at The Cogency, my puzzle pieces are scattered about – lost in unknown imaginations and possibilities. And that’s just the way I like it. If I’ve learned anything from my time here, it’s that there is no possible way of nailing down fate.

Every plan and vision and idea is just a human attempt at making sense of the real confusion that is the future. It’s only natural. But the real fun rests in the knowledge that you shouldn’t even try to figure it out – you’ll probably end up restlessly searching for invisible pieces while the reality sits in front of you, waiting to be put together.

My semester working in London has left me more confused than when I came. I don’t know where I want to live or work or travel. I don’t know what I want in the next year or five or ten. And I don’t think that I should be trying to find that out.

The future will always be the future but the present only happens once before it becomes the past.

So I’ll be happy with my constantly ruined puzzle, piecing things together only to have them scattered again. It’s like a game – one that rewards those with patience, open mindedness and not a bottle of glue in sight.

stubbornness abroad

PRAGUE – It’s three o’clock in the morning and I’m sitting on the curb of a deserted street in Prague – backpack beside me, friends to my right, river below me. And there is a smile on my face. Maybe it was the delirium setting in, but there was indisputably a smile there.

Rewind to nine o’clock. My friends and I sit divided in our hostel room. It has never happened to us, but we are in disagreement about how to carry on with our night. Tensions rose and eventually we set out of our hostel door with no plans and heightened sensitivity.

We walk the cobblestoned streets and talk like strangers. Eventually, we say nothing at all. It’s my last night in Prague and I have to catch a bus at three o’clock in the morning – so no clubs for me. Or pubs. Or anything alcohol-related. But still we follow our friends who didn’t have our unfortunate flight time on a pub-crawl.

It started out predictably sketchy – an alleyway meet up with a middle-aged dude whose English is shaky at best followed by a five-minute walk to a smoky pub.

I’m still holding on to my resistance to this plan. I am almost determined to not have fun – to be the martyr of The Night Out, living proof that nothing good is to come from the events of this night.

But then I thought about those words that are flashing across my mind. I am actively snubbing fun, enjoyment, Prague – I am consciously making a decision to ruin my night to prove that these plans would ruin my night.

How backwards is that?

My hand was clenched around what I wanted, what I thought was right, what I, I, I… So much so that I couldn’t grasp anything else. Holding on to my stubbornness wasn’t going to make my night any better. So I decided to let it go (cue readers to start singing “Let It Go” in their head…) and see what this night in Prague held for me.

It started out with an overly drunk guy waddling over to our table and hitting on an engaged friend and ended in a five-story club dancing to eighties hits with my raincoat tied around my waist like the 2000s never happened.

We walked the Prague streets – through historical squares, past ancient clock towers, over legendary bridges – thinking not of a plan or what we wanted to do or anything else except the fun that can be had between good friends.

Joy knows no circumstance. It is wherever you want it to be, so long as you choose to look for it. Had I stuck to my stubborn ways, the drunk guy would have been too annoying to be funny and the club would have been too loud to be able to stand.

But it didn’t end up like that. I ended up having the time of my life doing things that could have gone either way – and they didn’t go the wrong way because of luck or circumstance or coincidence, but because of a personal choice to readjust my outlook on the events playing out in front of me.

It’s three o’clock in the morning and I’m on a curb in Prague waiting for the bus that comes in fifteen minutes. It starts to rain. My friends and I look at each other and laugh. We’re in Prague, we just danced on a disco floor to the Macarena, we have a flight back to our home in London. Why hold onto something when you can reach for so much more?

My hands unclench and open up to the world of possibilities.