Hey family! So a few weeks ago, specifically March 13th, I applied for a travel writing scholarship with World Nomads. I know, I’ve been keeping it under wraps. Kind of afraid, I guess. That nagging voice in my head keeps interjecting, what if I don’t get it, then everyone would know. I hate that voice and today I decided to shut her up because she isn’t serving me. She doesn’t have my best intentions at heart. She goes against every bone in my body telling me that I can do anything. That I can be anything. So I am reminding her today, that I am in control. I don’t live my life in fear, if I did, fear would have stopped me from even applying. So here I am!
Filled with nerves and anticipation. I literally can’t remember the last time I wanted something so badly. I’m usually not interested in speeding up time by any means but right now, I wish I had that remote from Click. You know that movie with Adam Sandler where he uses the remote to pretty much be “God”.
I know that whatever in this life that is for me, is already mine. If I am supposed to spend 14 days in Portugal with Tim Neville, a NY Times travel writer, then, catch me in Portugal this August and if not, I also know, I’ll be okay. Anyway, I wanted to share the essay I submitted for the scholarship. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined, I would love to hear your feedback!
6:00 am the driver waited bright and early to transport the 4 of us, an hour and a half away from our Beijing Hotel. 700 Yuan for the ride and I don’t think it truly hit me where I was headed until I saw the faded snow-covered road sign directing us to Mutianyu Great Wall of China. 14° F with defective hand warmers and no gloves; tired, cold and now wet, we finally arrived. Looking around I couldn’t help but wonder where was it? I braced myself for the chill of winter, trotted through snow piles to get my tickets and still hadn’t seen the iconic wall, not even in the distance. We followed the driver, Jian, eagerly who had now switched roles and became our highly esteemed tour guide. Jogging to keep up with his brisk pace, there were locals selling scarves, hats, gloves, and coffee. I contemplated taking a break and having a steamy cup more times than I’d like to admit. The walk up felt like an eternity on numb toes; one more step. Breathless, and we hadn’t even begun walking up the wall, I still couldn’t see. The videos I watched didn’t prepare me for this snow-covered trek. The familiar Subway and Baskin Robins marked the location of the entrance and we finally arrived at the lift, which would carry us above the naked forests to the Mutianyu side of the Great Wall.
Silence. I braced myself for the nerve-filled ride up to a destination I had yet to lay eyes on. We were so far off the ground, I held my breath each time I heard a creek from the thick cable that held my life in its proverbial hands. And then I saw it, and the memory hit me like a bag of rocks. I was four years old the first time I saw a picture of the Great Wall of China. I could distinctly recall questioning my mom, with how’s and whys as she tried to explain its location in the world. A place, at the time that seemed so far beyond the scope of my reality and hers. A NYC girl with big dreams, I knew one day I would go. One day I would stand on the greatest wonder of my world and take the same steps as millions before me. I knew I would see the sunset from Mutianyu and be still in its embrace.
Jumping off of the quick moving lift, we finally made it; I was standing on the Great Wall of China. Looking out into the world there was nothing, no streets, no buildings, no semblance of life. It made sense at that moment why I hadn’t seen it from afar. When you’re standing on the wall, nothing else exists. I was in another world filled with endless peaks and clouds and miles of meticulously placed stones battered by time. The jagged stairs up and down and then up again, covered with ice made exploring the towers a unique adventure. I was transformed into a voyager looking for anything and nothing. Walking ahead, eager to be alone just me and the vast openness of the world. Even with the snow-filled ground, the sky was bluer than I had ever seen it, the sun blinding. Climbing the first of many towers, there was no doubt in my mind, the best memories were made right there at the top. The stone marked names of adventurers before me, were etched into the sides of the wall. I could almost hear the laughter of the souls who had once stood in magnificence.
With everything I thought I knew, with every bit of expectancy I had, one thing I didn’t envision was desire. Wonderment, surprise, joy was all probable, even anticipated but the desire that consumed me left me feeling full and empty all at once. I was now standing at the precipice of where I am and where I’m going. And I knew, standing on that wall, I had to go everywhere, to see everything. That travel far would be my life’s motto. I now had another story I was obligated to share with the world.