I'm in the home stretch... I have just arrived in Philly, and in less than two hours I board a plane that will take me over the Atlantic Ocean. It has been a relatively smooth and easy day, sans the typical logistical nightmare of trying to cram all 6' 3" of awkward bones into a seat the size of a TV dinner tray. Traveling is never a very comfortable experience, but I have no complaints so far. In less than two hours I will be boarding my final flight, and when I wake up I will be greeted with sights and smells of a bustling Parisian morning. Riki will be awaiting me, and I can't even begin to describe the feeling.
Hand on Bible, it wasn't until this morning on the way to the airport the gravity of the situation finally hit me. I'm going to France...to live...for eight months. Sure, I've thought about it before. Plenty, in fact. But those thoughts have always quickly been pushed to the back burner due to the roughly 3,000 things on my "to do" list before leaving. I've never been much of a planner, and it turns out, time (or lack thereof) is the only thing that can motivate me. Let's just say that if I was always as busy and productive as I've been the past four days, I would be sitting in the Oval Office right now, enjoying a cigar and fine brandy, feet kicked up on the desk. It's been crazy.
I still feel like I'm still forgetting about 35 things...but I am greatly comforted by the fact that once I get on that plane, everything will have been done. I have nothing else to worry about, of course, except finding an internet connection so I can actually do my job and stay over there. But my point is, my job is done. The craziness of the last few days will fade into a distant memory, and I will be able enjoy myself. I don't have to worry about finding a place to live, setting up an internet connection, figure out how to get around, etc... All that has been taken care of for me.
As most of you know who are reading this, Riki has been over in France for about two months. She has done everything. I can't even tell you the pride that swells in me when I think of how incredible that is. And, she wanted to have it this way. She wanted to go over by herself. She wanted to be scared by herself. She wanted to be lost and alone. She did all of this knowing full well how homesick she would be in the first few days. She did this because she wanted to prove that she could...even if it was to no one but herself. I cannot tell you how sexy independence is. Kids, take note.
I remember a time when a friend of hers really got to her. She didn't mean to, it was all in pure innocence, but it did. She said to Riki, "You're so lucky! I wish I could quit my life for 9 months..." This really upset Riki, and in turn, me. That's not fair. No one handed her this on a silver spoon. She didn't win anything. Quit life? As in, this is a nine month vacation? HA! Anything but! People, let's not forget that she is actually working and molding the minds of the young, not just sipping on wine and snapping at her butler. I think the reason this upset her was because maybe no one was noticing how hard she was working. That would piss me off, for sure.
In the past year I have never, NEVER, seen anyone work harder in my life. She was literally working four different jobs. She had her main gig for Alford Advertising. She volunteered for Team Gleason. She worked in a restaurant five nights a week to save up extra money. And...on top of all that, she wrote a 300+ page book. No joke. She literally wrote a book. It's called Making New Orleans and it's awesome. (I'm saving my review for a different blog post, but trust me, in you love New Orleans, you'll want one.)
The funny thing is, I thought I was crazy busy. In comparison, that's laughable. Just imagine the stress of moving to a different country, trying to find a place to live, set up everything you need to set up to live, and on top of that, you're trying to find any kind of internet connection you can to finish writing a book. Have you ever tried to write a book? It is a million times harder than it seems. You need a clear head. Distractions on the mind are the death of many a good writer. It's not like, "Oh hey, I have 45 minutes free, let me sit down and write!" No. And on top of all this, she was all alone.
I can't imagine the stress and loneliness of it all. There were times no doubt when she wanted to give up. But these are the times that make you as a person. She's made it through the hardest part, and it turn, it will pay off for the rest of her life. Life is all about the journey, not the reward.
You want to know how to achieve your dreams? You work. Hard. There's really no other answer, unless you're in my boat, and then you just get lucky. But I wouldn't count on that. In the past year I have never seen anyone work so hard in my entire life. I've seen first hand how hard she's worked, and how much she's sacrificed so she could live out her dream. No one gave this to her. She earned it, pure and simple.
I am the lucky one.
achieve verb \ə-ˈchēv\
: to get or reach (something) by working hard