Los Angeles,

The day is drawing towards its end, and I can finally let it go. The last week and a half has been an eclectic time time of planning and process; there was a list somewhere – or two – but now it’s all come down to just the night.

In the morning, Chicago, Illinois.

Seven years ago when I first booked a flight just because it was on a visit to New York. I wasn’t much of a planner then, so rather than making lists, I figured I’d just go with the flow and take care of anything that came up on the spot. Boy was I in for a rude awakening.

For starters, when I hopped off the plane at LaGuardia airport, I got into a cab and gave the driver directions to a hostel that was actually on the opposite side of town. By the time I realized it, however, I looked at the fare that tallied up and just played it cool. I knew where I was going. Ahem.

When we got to what was supposed to be the hostel that was actually just a convenience store, I thanked the driver for his time, paid my fare, and as soon as the driver was out of sight scurried to find the nearest subway station.

Underneath a gripping east coast heat and the weight of a duffel bag waning my shoulders between turns carrying it, I found the right line and booked it to the other side of Manhattan. It was still all good.

Then when I arrived to just outside of the spot, I reveled in self-congratulation. So what if I went the wrong way at first? I still made it! I called mom back home and declared victory (though she was skeptical).

The only problem was that at that point I didn’t actually understand hostels much beyond the fact that they were supposed to be cheaper than hotels, thus neglecting to make a reservation at the hostel inn, telling myself that it’d be just like any other hotel with plenty of walk-ins available.

I was wrong; it turned out that the guy in line right in front of me – some tall biker looking type – totally took the last spot!

From there it truly began. The evening steadily crept over the sky, and I suddenly found myself at the outset of an unforgettably tough first night in The Big Apple. Ah, to be nineteen again.

Tonight, I find myself at the end of a road in which I pride myself on my precision. Though I’m still large on improvisation, some other part of me truly enjoys accounting and planning for as many details as possible. Okay, maybe it’s more like an obsession with details, but what’s the difference, anyhow?

In the days leading up to tonight, it was obsessing over one goal after the other — getting this done here, and finishing that up there — leaving everything else behind.

In the process I maintained my precision, but not without accumulating quite a bit of stress from it; the thing is, like anyone else when it comes to a big day, I also agonize over the details more than I’d like to, but there are few alternatives.

I do believe utter confidence is a gift sometimes. But clearly, I’ve had experiences where the opposite is true.

In the case of this adventure, though, I think confidence is still in letting go after all. While letting go of an obsession with being precise is the work of a lifetime, what I can do now is let go of the notion that it’s a fault to stress over a big day.

I don’t think it’s wrong to want to get everything right leading up to an important trip to a new city, but only human.

In any case, at this point I simply don’t even have much time left to stress over that either, so the impetus really is to relax a little. I think I’ll take a jog.

It’s been an amazing ride L.A., but the real ride starts tomorrow! Be sure to check back for more details soon, as I can assure you it’s going to be another unforgettable time.

J.T.

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