What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given, and why?
With the moon high over Santa Fe, my mom swung our van into the hotel parking lot. We checked in, deposited our bags in the room and I convinced my mom to proceed directly to the hot tub.
I cranked up the jets, immersing us in steamy bubbles. I fashioned myself a foam beard to the amusement of my mom. Our moment of repose after a long drive was short-lived. A highly attractive boy, complete with sun-kissed skin and shaggy brown hair, stepped into the froth and introduced himself as Aaron. Of course, he was Californian.
My mother, being a chatty extrovert, struck up a conversation whilst I ogled the young man. My mother's sudden inclusion of me in the discussion jolted me from my admiring glances.
"Yes, Grace is going to be a senior," She divulged, smirking in my general direction, well-aware that he was just my type.
"Tight. Do you know where you're applying?" He inquired, shifting towards me.
"Yeah, Brown's my first choice. But, the University of Texas is my backup."
"Great school. I ended up at Humboldt. Nowhere else would take me," he joked.
We spoke of Europe, the Ethnographic Show in Santa Fe, and our sister cities: Austin and Berkeley. Then, came a slight pause. Aaron stroked his non-existent beard and decided to impart upon me the sage advice of a college application process survivor.
"Grace, you seem pretty chill. But, when you're going through the torture that is college admissions and you're freaking out-because you will-I want you to take a step back. Think about it, this is your senior year. Don't get so bogged down in the future that you forget about the present. So, just don't forget to have fun," he spoke as my guru in a surfer's body.
Four months later, I'm waist-deep in college applications but I keep an emergency reserve of fun in my pocket. Whenever I feel frazzled, I call up my friends and we head to the park for a late-night rendezvous. We practice yoga on the grassy turf and my comrades attempt to teach me how to cartwheel, a skill I never learned. We frolic in the sprinklers, drenching me in fun and I feel my anxiety fade away. Yes, I'm concerned about where I'll be a year from now, but the immediate adventure lays in the present-in the excitement of each day.
On that particular day in old Santa Fe, the hotel manager kicked us out of the pool area at closing time, but as I grabbed my towel and turned to say good night, Aaron made a small leap to the future.
"So, do you want to hang out tomorrow? I'll be by the pool all afternoon."