The sun peaked over the snowcapped Andes as the last day of my roaring 20s dawned. My ego had just suffered a blow from our snowboarding debacle, but I wasn’t going to let this amazing decade culminate in defeat.
Before we left the ski resort the day prior, Rufio hired a private ski instructor as an extra birthday gift for me. While I spent the two hours with the instructor, he got his fill of “shredding” the advanced slopes. After we met for lunch, he spent the rest of the day teaching me to build on the basic skills I learned earlier. With each run I grew more confident, and we made it to the bottom faster and faster each time.
When my tired legs needed a break, we rode the lift the Bajo Zero restaurant for a beer with a view. The place was packed with skiers and snowboarders of all ages taking a respite in the gleaming sun. Rufio left me at the one table we could snag while he clunked off in his ski boots to find the beer line. I peered out over the snowy slopes, glistening in the sun, and proudly smirked about the little accomplishment I had made that day, then suddenly remembered I needed to ask Rufio what the Florida State score was…
The longer he was gone, the more I was engulfed in thought. This was a significant day, the final 24 hours of a decade that had given me so much. The decade began right there in Tallahassee, cheering on the Florida State Seminoles as I was still doing 10 years later from the top of the world. My best high school friend had driven from her college in Atlanta to meet my newest best friends and attend the game with me to celebrate this new era. My sister, a FSU alumna, met us to tailgate. I had just returned from my first trip abroad, and had made a drastic decision to change my career trajectory.
I graduated, moved home and over the next two years I would travel abroad again a few times. All the while I was working toward my new career goal, which ultimately took me to Atlanta, just as my best friend moved away. Without her there to introduce me to people, I tagged along with a sorority sister instead. She took me to a kickball game, and I met a guy nicknamed Rufio.
Two months later he took me on my first standby flight. We fell in love, we traveled, I applied to graduate programs. I was accepted to a program in Atlanta, we moved in together, we traveled. We adopted our baby (she’s technically a dog, but don’t tell her I said that), we traveled. I graduated, he proposed, we traveled. I accepted a job offer, I traveled. After a long engagement, all those girls who tailgated together at that Florida State game on my 20th birthday stood around us as we said our vows. We traveled.
Through those years I crossed off bucket list items like there was no tomorrow. Run a half marathon. Throw tomatoes at La Tomatina. Skydive. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. Go on safari in Africa. Repel down a mountain. Dive with giant manta rays and sharks in Oceania. Cheer on the Seminoles in a National Championship game. Cheer on Team USA in a World Cup Final. Drink wine on the French Riviera. Drink scotch in Scotland. Eat bugs in Southeast Asia. Ski the Andes…and much, much more.
In the end, there I stood on the top of that mountain, reflecting on every failure, every accomplishment, every little moment that had led me right to where I was. A few weeks prior a similar train of thought had left me a little downtrodden. That career trajectory change I made a decade earlier as a wide-eyed college student had left me a little less financially secure than I hoped to be at this point in my life. But, when I thought about every experience that decision had afforded me between that day and this, I suddenly felt incredibly rich. In just ten years I have earned a world-class education and worked my way to a career that is fulfilling and rewarding. I have fostered relationships with amazing people. I have traveled the world.
Rufio trudged back in his ski boots, beer in hand, to find me staring off in the distance, a visible smile blazoned across my face. His voice trailed in, “Seminoles are tied at the half.” We talked football, we skied, we laughed and drank wine, and fully enjoyed the last few hours of a monumental decade.
My 20s were nothing short of exhilarating, and when the sun rose over the Andes the next morning I couldn’t help but wonder with excitement where the next 10 years would take me.
Where have the last 10 years taken you? Leave a comment below!