Monday, March 14, 2016

Why You Should Pay Me to Travel: Part 1

Wow. So yeah. I did it again. You know, that thing I said I'd never do? Like, not write on my blog for literal months? I'm a mess. Forgive me. 

OK - So now that we've gotten the blog shaming out of the way, let me catch you guys up! Let's just do a flash round of updates, then I'll slow it down to cover my favorite parts... er part: 
  • I'm settled back here in Chicago and loving it. 
  • I finished my chapter with Birchbox. I know... so bittersweet. 
  • I now head up global social media strategy for Life Fitness. No, not the gym. 
  • I went to Spain for two weeks at the end of December/beginning of January, and it changed my life. I really don't think I'll ever be the same. If my incessant Instagram posting didn't prove that, this post will. 
  • I am re-committed to living a more balanced lifestyle—read: working out more and drinking (a little) less wine. It's important to note that I am having a glass of wine now. *rolls eyes at self* 
  • I really missed blogging, so I am back. 
Now that you're up to speed I really want to immediately jump back to Spain, which explains the title for this blog post. I feel like in order for you to fully understand the magic of what my European adventure was, you need a little bit of back story. So, here goes.

I have always been in love with the Spanish language. I studied all four years of high school, and by the time I graduated I was at the honors level. I still, to this day, regret not minoring in it in college, but no use crying over spilled milk. I am really fascinated by any foreign culture, but I just felt so connected to Spanish culture for some unknown reason. Fast forward to 2010, when I meet my friend/teacher/director/colleague David Gregory, a native Spaniard who I met while performing in a musical produced by his theatre company, Teatro101. I loved working with David so much, that when he offered an elective class that married my love for theatre with my love for all things Spain in the spring semester of my junior year of college (woo! say that 3x fast), I literally leapt at the opportunity. And you guessed it, it changed my life. I devoured every script, book, background article - you name it. It solidified that I HAD to get to Spain. It was no longer an option for me—but when?

So years and years pass. David and I remained good friends. I performed in two more shows of his, both of which he directed, one of which he produced. 'Twas a blast. Then I moved to Chicago with my boyfriend, who I started dating while doing one of David's shows. So the moral of this story is that David is connected to most of the amazing things in my life (just discovering this, btw). Then, I alone, move to New York. Then David to Spain. And me back to Chicago. But during this time of many transitions, David in true, generous David fashion told me I was welcome any time to Rota, which I would soon name my "special place." And I'm thinking to myself, "YEAH RIGHT! When am I ever going to have the time and money to go to Spain?!"

This is the night David told me he was moving to Spain and invited me to come visit. Note: I didn't take him seriously. At all. (Pictured from left to right: Anthony (my manz), me (I really hope you knew that), and David) 
Fast forward to December 2015. I am living back in Chicago, but it's my last trip to New York City before my time with Birchbox would come to a close. I had just accepted my job with Life Fitness and I am sitting in a new restaurant with my amazing, impulsive-yet-inspiring friend Julia, and I am telling her how I have a couple weeks off between Birchbox and the new gig. I—almost proudly—state that I am just going to take the week to sit on my couch and do nothing. Then right after that I confide in Julia that I feel that I am such a cultured person, but I am kind of embarrassed about how little I've traveled. And I am not saying this from an ungrateful place, I understand that just having been out of my city is a blessing. But I have always dreamt of traveling the world, and getting to Europe was always in the plan. I just hadn't done it. And really - why not? I had just ended a job where I had unlimited PTO, but my workaholic ways never allowed me to really take advantage. The farthest I had been out of the country at this point was to Jamaica, which is nothing to scoff at, but it wasn't Europe... it wasn't Spain.

OK this is where it gets real, promise. So we're still in the restaurant and Julia, in true Julia fashion, where she says everything with an underlying tone of "why not," like she actually believes anything is possible (I envy this), says "Why don't you take that week and travel? Don't you have a friend who lives in Spain or something? Didn't you always want to go there?" YES, JULIA! YES I DID.

And the rest is pretty much history. Originally I wasn't going to ask David to stay with him because a.) it was legit the first week of December, and as I mentioned earlier, I was on a flight by the end of the month. And b.) my mom always taught me to never invite myself places. I was truly planning to be impromptu and just go. I even asked my boyfriend's sister if she'd be down for the trip. But after reaching out to David to see if he'd be around, and him letting me know that I could totally stay with him down in Rota, I knew I'd be a true idiot not to take the local up on what turned out to be the trip that changed my outlook on life. Not kidding. It turned this penny-pinching frugalista (<-- did TJ Maxx trademark that? Whoops!) into someone who would throw you my entire bank account for a chance to travel the world. 

Running off negative zero hours of sleep, but high on adrenaline because I am going (or went) to SPAIN! 
So yeah, first week of December Julia casually suggests that I embark on the trip of a lifetime. Second week of December I book my flight. Last week of December I am dancing around the town square in Rota, Spain with an open drink in my hand and the policĂ­a right next to me because they. do. not. care.

I am putting this video here for authenticity's sake, because after months of not being here for you I just really needed to regain your trust. I have shown this to NO ONE.

It changed my entire life. And my next post will tell you all about it. Promise. Like, pinky swear. I will write it before the end of the week. I AM TELLING THE TRUTH. Love you! Mean it.

- @vnesschelle

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