If you know anything about me, you probably know that my favorite book of all time is Paper Towns by John Green. I can still remember when my friend, Camille, told me how amazing it was way back when it had first come out. I borrowed her copy and figured I would try it out. I had never read any of John’s books, so I wasn’t really expecting anything. He hadn’t gained a lot of popularity yet, so he was still a pretty unknown writer. I took the book home and started reading it that night (remember what it was like to not have homework or studying every single night? Me neither).
A few hours later, I closed the book (305 pages later) and exhaled what felt like every bit of misunderstanding and pressure I had ever felt out into the space that made me feel so small. I had heard people say “This book changed my life,” and I thought I understood them. I had many books that impacted me a lot – Harry Potter, Lord of the Flies, Speak, the list goes on. After reading the last sentence of this novel, I knew I definitely understood them. My life had changed. I felt as if I had just read a journal I had written but somehow I had not written it. Now, I could go on talking about this book forever, but I want to focus on how this book recently re-changed my life.
I bought a new copy of this book from Amazon to give to my friend for Christmas. When the new copy came in the mail, it just looked too new for my liking, so I picked it up and re-read the story for the billionth time overnight while writing little notes and highlighting my favorite parts. All of the old feelings it gave me came flooding back – it was overwhelming. Margo (the main character) still resembled that person I longed to be – vivacious, not comfortable with being comfortable, different, spontaneous.
Fast-forward a month later to about a week and a half ago – I still longed for that spontaneity. I longed for the change that Margo longed for.
“ I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met. ”
So I sat in my room one night while procrastinating the reading I had to do for class the next day, and I applied for a volunteer program in Guatemala – set to start less than a month later. The next day, I was accepted. The day after I paid my program fee and all of a sudden I was going to a new place – alone – serving – exploring, and I was overcome with excitement.
I have had an amazing time this year – it could definitely be considered my favorite year so far. Even though this year has been pretty awesome, it’s also been a pretty rough year. I’ve been struggling with a lot of things, and the thought of being able to go on this trip in a place I’ve never been to and experience a new culture while serving in a way that I have always felt appealing has made me so overjoyed.
So, thank you Margo Roth Speigelman. I don’t know if you would have ever decided to volunteer in Guatemala for your spring break, but without you, I don’t know if I ever would have. Thank you for helping to make me adventurous.
“You shall no longer take things at second or third hand…nor look through the eyes of the dead…nor feed on the spectres in books. I tramp a perpetual journey.” – Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
I set up a GoFundMe page for my trip to Antigua, Guatemala. If you have a few dollars to spare and you’re interested in contributing to my volunteer trip, you can do so here. http://www.gofundme.com/anitguatrip2015