My life is pretty colorful, but some of my experiences and memories surprise even me. There was this one crazy weekend in DC sometime in my college years. I have forgotten most of the names, so I'll be making those up if I use any at all. I hope I don't accidentally make up a name of a real person that was involved. In any case, the adventure started with someone asking to borrow eighty bucks. (I might be inventing the amount as well, and my brain also won't allow me to recall whether they ever paid me back or not. Somehow it is irrelevant, and I knew the risk was there when I offered.)
I understood that the money would be used to buy cocaine. I volunteered to 'loan' the money, though I told them I would not be partaking. We took a trip to the ATM. There were maybe four or five people involved. They scored and as we were walking to the party she started in on me.
"I've never done it before either! We could be first timers together! Come on, you have to do at least one line with us, we wouldn't even have it without your help."
I just held firm, shook my head. I obviously was not judging, not planning to turn anyone in or rat anyone out since I was enabling and complicit. Why she was so invested in me trying it, I'll never know. I'll also never know what it feels like, though they were doing lines right in front of me, like a movie come to life in 3D. One of the guys had rubbed a bit of it on his gums, and decided to kiss me. It was a short kiss, and it tasted bitter and had no appeal. His interest was never in me anyway only in himself. He was going to be a model or a rock star or a movie star or more likely a hot mess on self-destruct...anyone around him was charmed for a while. He was handsome, but chaotic.
She went ahead with the group and I am not sure if she enjoyed it. Maybe she was mad that I held strong in the face of peer pressure. Peer pressure has had influence on me at times, so I guess my resolve was strong in this wild weekend.
I think I should give a shout out to my tenth grade Health teacher, Mrs. Puncus-Merola (probably misspelled). She educated us about many things, but drugs was on the topic list and that class taught me that some people's hearts stop on their first try of cocaine. Not to mention it is highly addictive. Duh. I will write about addiction another time, but for now suffice it to say I knew my limitations in that department were real. Also I didn't want to risk immediate death.
My arguments were not powerful enough to convince her not to try it, though if I'm being honest I was never trying to talk her out of it. I was only justifying my own reasons for not indulging. And if I'm being honest, I didn't need to justify and I was never even considering it. My decision was instant and final, not up for discussion.
There are lessons in life that must be learned the hard way, through personal experience. And there are lessons that can be learned vicariously. Apparently this one was the latter for me.
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The Double Meaning behind the blog title 'Dream Follower:'
First, for 14 years I was a ballroom & social dance instructor, and have studied both leading and following. I feel that learning to follow is full of nuance and is often misunderstood. I made it one of my personal goals to become a really excellent follow on the dance floor, and will probably talk a lot about the art of following - both in and out of the context of dance.
Second, I am a huge fan of author Michael Ende, probably best known for The Neverending Story. The book is incredible, and the first film captured some of the essence. (Please don't watch the other two films...I urge you to read the book though!) Anyway, at least twice in my life I have been caught in a storm of my own indecision, and my inner Moon Princess yelled to my inner Bastian...'Why don't you do what you dream?' I tear up even now as I write this little blurb. The tension between being practical, keeping my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds (at the risk of compromising my inner vibrancy, true self, and who knows what else)...and reaching for my true dreams (at the risk of losing everything) is still a very real struggle. In fact, one of those struggles lead to my 14 years of teaching dance, so we can see which voice won the battle that fateful day when I was staring at the want-ad...
And so I strive to be two kinds of Dream Followers in my life. One has to do with connecting with others, and the other has to do with connecting with my inner Moon Princess and the world of possibility that opens when I do...