I’ve been telling the same story for years to anyone who will listen, and anyone who has ever considered passing up an opportunity for what I consider a lame excuse. What story of missed opportunity might that be, you ask?
The year was 1986, my junior year of college. I had never been on a “spring break trip” before and had finally found a way to make that happen this year. I don’t come from a wealthy family that goes on these kinds of trips – or finances them for that matter – so finding a way to make this college student dream come true was a jackpot in my world. All I had to do was sell enough trips to get myself a free one (or the equivalent in cash, which was $275.00 at the time)
Just before Spring Break my dear friend Lisa had broken up with her boyfriend and was going home to visit her family. Her family had already bought a ticket for the now ex-boyfriend and she offered it to me. By the way, she is from Hawaii, raised there all her life and was going home (there) for Spring Break at this time.
Did I take the ticket and the “monetary equivalent” of my trip for spending money? Noooooo. To this day I have no idea what was going on in my little brain, or why my friend didn’t box my ears in to wake me up, but I stuck to my original plan telling Lisa that I had “earned this trip” and I was going on it, sorry. I went on my “earned” trip to South Padre Island, Texas riding a bus for TWENTY SEVEN HOURS to stay in a condo with four boys (two of which were gay, by the way) and I went with $70.00 in spending money for the week.
I spent the week on the beach drinking free iced tea from my souvenir 32 ounce mug (free refills all week!) and eating a diet of potatoes and noodles with one jar of Ragu. I spent any extra money I had on the oversized drinks that were on special offer and packed the most punch for $7.00 each night. I went on a day trip to Mexico for almost nothing since we didn’t really eat or drink there. It wasn’t perfect, but it was all mine.
Now here I am 25 years later and I am finally going to Hawaii. The ticket wasn’t given to me by a friend, it was purchased with hard-earned frequent flier miles. We won’t be staying with a local family, we’ll be paying to stay in a nice hotel. I won’t be seeing the islands like a local, I will be booking day-trips to see the sights. But in the end, I will make it to Hawaii when I was beginning to doubt that I would ever be able to make up for that one disastrous, narrow-minded, thoughtless decision I made in my youth.
My message to anyone reading this is simple: don’t over think it, just do it. In the end, you have to be happy with your decisions not anyone else, and life is too short for ridiculous regrets. My father used to say to me “try everything once, if you don’t like it don’t do it again” and this is an idea that I have carried with me throughout my life. Too bad I wasn’t thinking of it when Lisa was offering me that free ticket to paradise. Live and learn.