It smelled like fresh dirt on a hot summer’s day. Poised with shovel in hand, this little, shy but determined, small-town girl from Indiana wasn’t going to let anything stop her from digging a hole to China. At nine years old and already three feet deep, I felt it was a good start toward my dreams of traveling the world. Exhausted, I must have fallen asleep that night watching “Alice in Wonderland” and ironically dreamt I had slipped down the rabbit hole.
Darkness met me with a rush of adrenaline thrusting my body through space. Down, down, down or maybe it was up, up, up I went at a gradually slowing pace, floating in an unusual direction and noticing a clock that told a peculiar time. Bonggg! I felt another jolt. Suddenly, I awoke twenty years later in China with a thirst like never before.
In search of a basic need, I couldn’t figure out how to get something as simple as water from the vending machine. So, casually I ventured to the nearest shop inside the airport offering bottled water but somehow instead of getting water, I ended up adjusting to the culture shock by eating chocolate Haagen-Dazs ice cream while blankly staring at the foreboding mountains of China. Had I really done it?
Everything seemed strange and completely opposite from home: unfamiliar faces whizzed by, combined with indecipherable sounds to a code I desperately wanted to understand. There were symbols on signs that looked like pieces to a puzzle. My eyes darted around in a bewildered state of uncertainty, searching for something, anything that made sense. Finally, my eyes landed on a banner written in my native language. It read, “Build Your Dreams”.
A soothing wave rushed through my body, awakening me to the sound of magical chimes playing over the intercom in preparation for an announcement. This wasn’t a dream and Thailand called to me from the other side of those mountains. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes; grateful for the first building block toward a grand vision, delighted in my first step to exploring worlds beyond my own, eager for my moment to drink in all life has to offer.
When I opened my eyes, there before me stood a little girl with a backpack. Stitched to the back of the backpack…was a white rabbit! I chased her through a crowd who appeared to be boarding. The boarding sign read, “Bangkok”. This was it. With a happy heart, I boarded the plane for my adventure of a lifetime.