When I turned eighteen years old I wanted to do something truly amazing to signify becoming an adult. Being the dedicated breakdancer that I am, I cooked up a brilliant idea.
The Red Bull BC One USA qualifying tournament was going to be held in Chicago that year. America’s best dancers would be competing for a shot to make it to the world finals in Moscow, Russia. Many of the dancers are inspirations that I look to when I develop my own dancing skills. What better way to become eighteen than to travel to one of the most prestigious breakdancing competitions, by myself, which happened to be in one of the coolest American cities?
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
There was, however, slight mischief in me. I had told my grandma that I successfully booked three nights in my hostel, when in actuality it was only two. I was afraid she wouldn’t let me go if I told the truth, so instead I called the hostel and asked if I could stay in the lobby the first night since I would be arriving back at a late time. They said yes. I arrived in Chicago in the early morning, after spending about eight hours on an airplane due to severe storms over the city. The rail into the city was shut down due to flooding, so I quickly asked and learned how to use the bus system to make it into the city. They weren’t kidding about the flooding, it was biblical. Entire SUVs were up to their windows in water, and it took nearly three hours just to find a safe navigational route into the inner city by bus. Once in the city, I spent the rest of the day mapping my route to the Aragon Hall where the event was to be held, and exploring. The event itself was amazing, and just like I predicted, it was around 2am-3am when I returned to the hostel.
I sat in a chair and began reading, but I slowly dozed off. I was shaken awake by an employee, who said if I fell asleep again, he would have to kick me out. I tried explaining what the daytime crew told me, but he said it simply didn’t matter, that it was illegal for them to let me sleep there, but if I could keep myself awake until my room was ready, then I’d be fine. I tried to keep myself awake and read, but as sure as the sun I drifted into sleep again. The next time I was shaken awake, I and another girl in my same position were getting thrown out of the hostel. They said my room wouldn’t be ready until 3pm the next day instead of 6am like I had thought! The girl and I (who was about 23 years old) wandered the streets of Chicago for an entire night, traveling to the various locations. Fear of being homeless for an evening was only temporary; soon the girl and I overcame it. I walked with her to a bus she had to catch to Indianapolis at 8am. We exchanged contact information (for purely friendly reasons) and said our goodbyes, she was going to return to Spain soon.
When I told the daytime staff what had happened, they were so shocked they offered my stay free of charge. I declined on the basis that it was indeed my fault for not planning properly, and that I would still pay the room charges. The rest of my Chicago trip was also wonderful. I visited the Shedd Aquarium, the zoo, went to a music festival, and saw all the sights. I ended the trip by taking a visit to the top of the former Sears Tower and doing breakdancing positions on the glass balconies. Shortly after I navigated my way back to the airport and returned to Colorado. I learned that just because I was eighteen, I wasn’t able to predict every scenario, and that I still have a lot to learn in the world of traveling.