About a month ago, I submitted a ‘travel article’ about my trip to San Francisco from last year. It was for a chance to win a placement for a four-day writing scholarship to Argentina with two other people. I spent 3 days writing the piece, when I first read what the judges were looking for in the submission I thought, I have a great story, I can do this easily in 2500 words. When I finally typed it up for the final draft I realised it was for 2500 CHARACTERS. I spent 20 hours writing an article in which I could now only submit 10% of.
I decided to submit the beginning paragraphs, as it summed up how the article was going to unfold. The feedback I received from the few people I showed was positive, it was descriptive, feeling like you were walking the streets with me. I was extremely proud. This article is what had motivated me to write for the past month. I hadn’t picked up a pen and paper to write, for the sake of writing, in about 10 years. I wanted this; I felt like I DESERVED this…but did I? For someone who decided on the spot, that this is what she wanted. I felt like I deserved this scholarship but did I really?
If you haven’t realised yet… I didn’t win the scholarship. I didn’t even make it on the shortlist. Was it that terrible? Or just not what the judges were hoping for?
To help with the ego, I told everyone I placed 7th. I am so embarrassed and I am now realising that I need to stop thinking that I DESERVE something and WORK HARD in achieving this, instead of the motto ‘if it’s meant to be, it will happen’.
Below is the article I entered…who knows? Maybe it would become a hilarious short story. I loved writing the story and it was the first trip I realised that I prefer to solo travel, after landing back home things took a turn for the worse and I am no longer friends with the ‘Ginger Ninja’ for reasons that I don’t want to admit I did for him, to get him to come on the trip in the first place, a secret I will keep forever (no, it wasn’t sexual, get your head out of the gutter)…unless you get me drunk in a social situation, then maybe. People are shit.
Keep your Head Down and Don’t Make Eye Contact
‘Adam! Adam! There’s like, really, really, REALLY cheap flights to San Francisco, come yeah?’ The phone was silent; the best time to ask for anything in life is to wake up the person from a deep sleep and to speak extremely quickly. Ten seconds passed and the phone was vibrating with the sounds of confused muffling and coughing, of a man who had to many cigarettes and a severe hangover from a heavy night out. Being someone with no patience, I said ‘ugh, just say yes’. After another moments pause, the voice on the other end finally spoke with the magical words of ‘ah…um… yeah, sure’. These words are what started the Ginger Ninja and the Goth Hippie’s four -day broke ass adventure.
Those few words that were spoken nine months earlier were still lingering in my mind. We were here! Hardly any spending money and smelling like we had been working in a sweatshop with no access to deodorant, we were ready to take on the city. Sitting on a semi clean train, with the odd script of graffiti tags written on the seats and walls, we were free from the recycled air and the many lines we were made to form. The flight from our home Melbourne, Australia was 16 hours with one stop over at LAX (which we spent most of the time at the famous Rolling Stones bar in the middle of the national departure terminals). We were happy to be in the semi fresh air, and decided because of our low funds that the cheapest way for us to arrive at our hostel in the city centre was by using the subway. The train arrived at our final stop, a big cement rectangle with an array of business suits, rowdy youth and the homeless filled our sight; a stale, musty smell; bright lights and sounds travelling from all directions, were illuminating all of our senses. We climbed up the stairs, with our suitcases awkwardly carried in our arms, into the sunshine and hustle and bustle of the big ‘City by the Bay’.
The walk to the hostel on Ellis St. was twenty minutes…up a big hill…to a street that is in the heart of two of the worst neighbourhoods in all of San Francisco (which we didn’t know at the time). The further we went up the hill, the dirtier it got, litter shimmering over the footpaths. There was lines of the homeless waiting to get into shelters for an evening feed and a bed to sleep in, small groups of people arguing about small trivial matters and yelling coming from the shadow people in the windows to the public below. We did not feel welcomed. For a while the thought that we were travelling the wrong way was repeating itself over and over in both of our heads and we stopped to ask a police officer. Two more blocks and a left and we would arrive at our destination.