Sometimes I tell stories. This one is always on my mind during Spring Break season.
My junior year of college I wasn't able to take a Spring Break trip for reasons that escape me now. Instead, a small group of my sorority sisters and I decided to take a trip the week after Finals. The destination was Mexico. The theme was freedom.
The second night of vacation we donned short little dresses and signed up for a booze cruise, which was less a cruise and more a big yellow school bus hauling intoxicated twenty-somethings from crowded bar to crowded bar. During one of the transports, I met a boy named Rocky. He was Australian, and also with a group of college friends.
Fascinated by anything with an accent, I batted my eyes and giggled nervously. He was cute, and I was in the phase of life when even the most passing encounter holds hope for a great romance. We met up with Rocky and his friends the next night and the next. He asked me to take a walk with him on the beach and I accepted. It was the first time we'd been alone, and we departed from my hotel room with nothing but a casual wave and wink from my friends.
The walk was uneventful. I think we held hands and I'm almost sure I asked inane questions about kangaroos. We weren't gone more than an hour, and at the top of the hotel steps he gave me a sweet but brief kiss.
The whole episode wasn't memorable enough to hold onto until years later when the Natalie Holloway case became international news. I remember sitting in my tiny office in Los Angeles and reading her story on the internet and coming close to tears over the heartbreak of it. I watched the eye rolls when she was referred to as a "good girl," and I was furious when anyone expressed anything other than sadness at the situation.
Just weeks away from turning twenty-one, that trip to Mexico was the first time I had consumed alcohol. I wasn't the quintessential "good girl," but I was mostly so. I did not party in college, I steered clear of many of the bad decisions that I could have made during that impressionable age. The night I took the walk alone with a stranger in a foreign country, I had not had a single drink.
People do stupid stuff. Sometimes they regret it the rest of their lives and sometimes they experience waves of relief that there turned out to be nothing to regret. I'm lucky that in this situation it was the latter, but I'm always aware of how easily this story could have had a different ending.
Go easy on yourself. Take care of your friends. Teach your daughters to do the same.