Let’s start with this.
Take a second and think of your absolute, craziest memory; that one moment that you couldn’t possibly make up even if you tried, and to this day, you think about it and think, “HOW in the world did I pull that off?” To you, how the moment occurred may still feel like a mystery; the seconds leading up to the craziness still unknown. Think of all the people you were with, the time it happened, what the weather outside was like, what lead you to that moment, the feeling you had in your heart, the feeling you felt in your soul, the sensation coursing through your body, and the thoughts running through your head. Your outrageous, once-in-a-lifetime memory is probably laced with an element of danger, a splash of randomness, and a drop of pure coincidence, and once mixed up all together in a big, boiling cauldron, produces a story that is told over and over again, every time with a little more suspense, a little more exaggeration. But the story doesn’t get old, it never gets old, and instead, it takes on a life of its own; the story becomes alive every time it is told.
We are all the keepers of these stories, these memories that will live in us forever. And occasionally we hear of someone else’s story that leaves us speechless and bewildered. Over the weekend, on Easter Sunday while I was at my boyfriend’s family’s house, my boyfriend’s uncle sat around a big, round table and began telling us story after story of his own adventures through Europe. He smuggled Bibles across the Soviet Bloc, he was the voice and representative for all the Romanians that were under communist rule and did not have a voice, and he acquired a painting in Paris that is worthy of being in the Louvre itself, just to name a few of the tales he shared with us (along with showing multiple pictures of himself and his best friend, Bill Clinton). Considering he had a fairly “young audience” (people my age or older who can only claim crazy stories from our not too distant college days), we all hung onto every word, listening like little kids at story time that just want to yell “SO what happens next?!”.
Sitting there, listening to story after story, I realized that THAT is what I want. I want to create stories, I want to tell tales of crazy adventures of backpacking through India, explorations in Africa, and camel rides in Egypt. Through traveling, through meeting new people and learning about their cultures and lifestyles, through taking that leap of faith and doing something way out of my element, and through PUSHING myself to reach that new height, the whole point of it is so I have a story to tell. To create a memory is to create a story, and it’s in the telling of the story that the memory lives on.
Ok, so sure, I have had some pretty wild experiences of my own. I bartended in Germany when I studied abroad (complete with Das Boot and all), I went clubbing in Hamburg until 7 am in the morning, I’ve experienced festivals in college , done a conga line around the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, hiked the hills of Cinque Terra and I’ve posed with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I’ve drank wine in front of the Eiffel Tower, and I’ve caught trains, missed trains, and slept on trains throughout Europe. I went to London without knowing anyone and without any kind of idea of where I was going to stay, completely by myself. I’ve navigated the alleys of Venice, and seen the red lights of the Red Light District in Amsterdam, and more impressively, swam across the English Channel and outran a pack of wild boar in The Netherlands (haha, April fools).
My story has begun, yes, but I’m still only in the first couple chapters. As Ohio State’s school president Gordon Gee said at the class of 2012’s commencement, “Life is like drawing without an eraser.” But who really needs an eraser anyways? You just need enough sharpened pencils to get you by; enough ink and enough lead so every moment of your story can be told.
*Photo credits: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/adventure