never to go on trips with anyone you do not love.


Road trips are my absolute fave. You load up the car with snacks and your favorite people and set off on an adventure into the Great Unknown. In this case, the Great Unknown was little town stacked full to the brim with thrift shops, old churches, and health clinics: Paradise, CA.

There were fourteen of us senior interns who loaded up in a church bus at eight-oh-six yesterday morning and took off down the road. We stopped for icees at nine, because when you're road tripping, icees are an absolute must have. We sang awkwardly in the back seat as our youth leaders drove and laughed along. We toured Paradise, seeing all of the places that my youth pastor, Jeremy, grew up going to and hanging out at.

And then we got to the real reason for our trip: hiking.

It was an easy hike down to the waterhole and dam. We talked and laughed and began to work as a team. We helped each other over the rocky places, raced over the flat areas, and whooped when we saw our end goal. We stripped down to our bathing suits, and stood looking out over the river from the top of the dam.

The water was deep and clear and our feet slapped against the cement of the dam as we got into position. "Nobody jump yet," Jeremy said. "It's all about trust. We have to jump together and each trust that no one will land on top of you."

I chickened out. "No way. I thought I could do this, but no. No. Absolutely not." (Imagine Russell Crowe as Javert jumping to his death in Les Mis and you have a pretty accurate what I was convinced was going to happen to me.)

Jeremy and the boys tried to get me to jump, but I stood there, not looking down, and refusing. The gave up, and the rest of the team jumped.

Part of me wanted to jump to. Part of me was screaming that someday I would regret it. Someday I would look back on that particular moment in time and wish so hard that I had been brave and jumped off of a twelve foot high dam into twenty+ foot deep water. I stood up, and walked to the edge. My girl friends joined me, and the boys watched from the bank. "Are you going to do it this time?" they yelled at me. "Let her be," said Jeremy.

I remember my paralyzing fear and again not wanting to do it. I remember counting to three. I remember my feet inching towards the edge of the dam, and curling my toes over it to keep  my balance. I remember falling for a few seconds, and then hitting the freezing water and going under. I remember my eyes popping open in shock, and taking in a lungful of river water. I remember coming up, and laughing over my fear. I remember the cheers of my teammates as they grinned from around me and at the river bank.

I do not remember jumping.

I did it again. I jumped again, this time with the entire team. It was just as cold and terrifying and horribly addicting as the first time.

I remember asking to go again, but it was time to say goodbye to our little waterhole and head back into town.

We went out for Mexican afterwards, and as I sat at the table with all of my friends and youth pastor, eating my super nacho, they began to dole out nicknames. When they got to me, there was a bit of silence, and then John said, "Merida. Your nickname is Merida, because you're both brave. And it's one of the only Disney princess movies you've ever seen."

There was laughter after that, and lots of smiling faces, and the nickname remains. Merida.

xx, Bailey


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