I woke up this morning freed from the sleepiness and fatigue that were heavier than my over-stuffed, over-sized purple suitcase that I dragged up the cobbled roads and countless steps to reach my rented mini villa in Ravello, Italy. Instead I initially felt the brief bewilderment one experiences when waking up in an unfamiliar place (where in the heck am I? Oh, that’s right); and then the tingly excitement of waking up to a day of possibilities (new friends, new sights, new experiences).
After a very Italian breakfast, the ladies I had met the night before and I followed our guide on a tour designed to familiarize us with the area. Like a social do-si-do, we unconsciously paired, chatted, and then switched partners, as we walked down the skinny, store lined streets—pausing now and then to snap pictures. Along the way, I said to two of the ladies, “My sense of direction is abysmal. I swear I’ve heard my GPS exclaim ‘you CANNOT be serious! How are you lost AGAIN! I am giving you perfectly signal-coordinated directions?”
So, I’m sure that they were surprised later in the day when we were off to a 1.5-hour drive to go on a group hike, exited the van, left the group, and headed back—alone—to walk back to Ravello. I got into the van excited about the hike; but once we started moving—we stopped moving: we were experiencing an L.A. rush hour traffic jam in Ravello. We sat, some napped, I tried to play on my phone to distract myself, but didn’t have any service, so was relegated to looking at old pictures. The traffic worked like a ride at a popular amusement park in the summer: wait and wait for long periods of time and then ride for a moment, feel thrilled and then stop again.
I wanted to get out of that van. I did not want to spend 4 hours of my brief time in Ravello in traffic, sitting in that silver van—anxious, bored and not moving (it just reminded me too much of what I do when I’m working; and did not seem like vacation to me).
I don’t know if it’s undiagnosed ADHD; but I’d rather drive for three hours than to sit in traffic for one. I’m happiest when I’m moving (not just in traffic, but through life). I wanted to get out of the car almost as soon as I saw that traffic was heavy, but I didn’t for the same feelings I woke up with that morning: the possibilities of my new friends and of new experiences. Will my new friends think I’m wack because I’m abandoning the group? Will they say I’m a loner or not a team player, weak, spoiled? What if this decision alienates me from them for the remainder of the trip? Then I thought: what if this hike is the most extraordinary hike you’ve even been on, Randi?
But as we continued to sit-and sit–and sit in the silver van, with no visible sign that the situation or speed of movement was going to change, I made the decision to leave. If my new friends don’t want to get to know me better because I feel more comfortable out of this van than in, I probably wouldn’t be friends with them for very long anyway.
And I know this area, I knew that hiking back to my villa would be beautiful, perhaps not as beautiful as what we’d find on the hike—but beautiful enough for me. I asked myself, “But Randi what if the most magical thing you could ever see is on the top of that mountain? What if there are whales cresting, eagles somersaulting, rare flowers blooming, friendly animals who approach people? The guide said the mountain is called the “Mountain of the Gods, as when we reach the top we are in the clouds and it feels like heaven?” I decided to still get out of the van. “Jesus is everywhere-right?
So I said goodbye to everyone and got out of the van to make the uphill trek back home—alone: me—the girl who said earlier that I get lost anywhere and all the time.
But, I realized something along my hike (Lord knows I had a lot of time to think): I am oftentimes lost, but at this stage in my life, my steps are steady because I am always confident that I’ll find my way.
That’s the beautiful thing about experiences: not the kind that you pay for like this trip I am on, but the ones that life gives you at no cost. You learn that as you are on life’s journey, you may be judged, you may go down a wrong path or may even be walking in a wrong direction, you just may miss the correct turn the first time (or the second or third), you may feel like giving up, or feel silly for even trying; but, you go, you keep going, and you eventually find your way.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more