“Hello?" "Hi Honey, come straight home from school with Sajina. They won't let Grandpa on the plane…" Her voice tapered off.
3:00 AM. I finally let myself cry. The tear streaked pillow, no longer comfy. CANCELED. Just like my spring break. I arose to get tissue. I had gotten the call twelve hours earlier that I wasn't going. My bags were packed lying on my floor. The temptation to grab them and take the bus to the train station was overwhelming. Ireland. The place of my ancestors. The place where I was supposed to go. Upon my grandfather contracting pneumonia and not being able to fly and no one else in my family having a passport or the time off from work, my trip, my dream was put on hold. The refund check was already in the mail, which meant I was no longer going to Ireland. No grassy fields, no massive amounts of sheep, no Irish potatoes drenched in butter. None.
The trip was doomed before the fated phone call. The original tour got canceled, then the next, and the next. So the fact that the tour we were supposed to go on got that far was a shock in itself. Aunts and uncles called and emailed me saying how sorry they were, that it just wasn't meant to be.
"Maybe this really wasn't meant to be." I thought. I mindlessly dialed my best friend to alert her I wasn't going anywhere. While on the phone and unraveling the details of the night before my mom walked into the room. "Your aunt and uncle say that you can take your friend and stay with them in San Francisco for a week if you wish. We know how you love the City, and we already talked to her parents about it." I dropped the phone. An adventure in the city that I loved so dearly with my best friend. By ourselves. Suddenly Ireland wasn’t that big of a deal.
Adventure! Independence! Independence that I knew I wouldn’t get being on tour buses, following my grandfather around. I would be on my own. Before I knew it I was on my own. We were on the train headed for San Francisco, my aunt picked us up, gave us a map of the Muni route and another of the city itself we were off. Exploring the wonderful city of San Francisco. There I fell in love. I didn't meet anyone; if I did it was a ghost. I understood what people meant when they said they had fallen in love with a city. I had been to San Francisco before, but not alone, not on my own money, own navigation skills. On my own it was something new and exciting, even the museum my family had gone to a few months prior seemed new and exciting, I had to take everything I could from that trip. Even getting lost was fun. Getting turned around on Market Street because of its straight shot through the city, taking a bike path in the Golden Gate Park because the main walking road was closed. It was still beautiful. I took from the detours and had fun.
I sat on the Muni and realized how easy it is to get from place to place. You can sit on the train and get from Sacramento to San Francisco; you can’t do that with Ireland. I will be able to go back to my heart’s content. Ireland will happen one day, but with this loss, I gained confidence. To read a Muni map, figure out when to be somewhere and how much things cost, without any financial guidance, to learn and experience something by yourself, what I took from that trip was more than a ‘pity’ trip so to speak, it was a learning experience, something I can go back to over and over. My trip to Ireland via San Francisco turned out to be much more of a learning experience then actually going to Ireland. It taught me to accept challenges and how to create new opportunities out of those challenges.
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