Just shy of three weeks ago, I made a big decision. It was on the heels of my “Oh, crap. Now what?” post, in which I talked a lot about the fact that I haven’t been great about trusting myself.
I decided I needed proof – evidence that I was going to be just fine. That I really could do anything I wanted. So I decided to remove myself from my comfort zone and learn that I really could stand on my own two feet. Make decisions. Make memories. And finally trust that I am the strong woman I believe myself to be. And removing myself from my comfort zone meant removing myself from my city.
So last Thursday, I embarked on a super-secret road trip. Gone were the days of running a decision by half of my family and my 18 closest friends. I told only one person where I was headed, and only because I believed it was necessary in order for the trip to be a safe, smart decision. But just like that, I was off – headed for a 4-day, learning-to-trust-myself trip to Kansas City.
Why KC? I lived there as a young girl. It’s where I fell in love with sports. And music. And I hadn’t been back since 1989, despite my many conversations about wishing to return to Royals Stadium. After all these years, It was time to go back. And I was off.
Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift kept me company on the 5-hour drive, though the hours didn’t seem to take as long as they should have. Sure, I’ve done things by myself before. Gone to movies. Even sporting events. But traveled alone? To a mostly unfamiliar city? This was totally new territory.
But from the moment I saw the skyline, I knew something was right. I totally HAD this. All of the things I’d been worrying about for months suddenly seemed so, so small. I was in KANSAS CITY. I mean, if could drive to Kansas City and have this adventure, have this amazing time, without anyone else, is there anything I couldn’t do?? I mean, really?
My first stop was the College Basketball Experience – home of the College Basketball Hall of Fame, along with several unique exhibits on the history of the game. But the best part? The full-size, NCAA-official court, just waiting for me and a basketball.
My eyes lit up when I saw that court. Short of high school PE, I’ve never shot hoops anywhere but my own driveway. And I got to shoot on THIS court. THIS COURT! Regulation, tournament-style awesome. I love winning the game in my head when I play in the driveway, but it wasn’t so hard to imagine that it was real now. Oh, and by the way, those lines on the court are MUCH farther from the basket than they look on television – ALL of them. Free throw line? Miles away. Three pointers? Forget about it.
In the museum’s interactive challenges, I finally had the chance to make that buzzer beating shot, while a recorded announcer questioned whether or not I could. But when I finally sunk it, the crowd cheered, and it was pretty freaking amazing. 60-second free throw challenge? I got 4. Not very many, but not so bad for a girl who’s been shooting for only a few weeks.
After a couple hours of basketball, it was time to face the music – literally. Who knew the Grammy Awards had a museum in the same building as the CBE? Not me, but when I discovered it while leaving, I knew I had to go inside. I played an electric piano, tried my hand at heavy metal “screamo” music, and checked out the Beastie Boys’ classic video “Fight for Your Right to Party.” I remixed a classic Whitney Houston track. I saw Michael Jackson’s Thriller jacket, as well as costumes worn on the Grammy stage by Cee-Lo Green, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna. Plus – Ray Charles’ grammy. The actual award. Seriously.
And yes, there was a light up dance floor where you could shake your groove to Michael Jackson. And if you’re wondering whether or not I hit the floor by myself, even though people were watching, and let it all out, well, yes. Of course I did.
This exists. EVERYONE gets placemats to color and crayons. It’s pretty much the happiest restaurant ever. I’d actually never eaten by myself at a “real” restaurant. I was struck by the silence that’s usually filled with conversation when waiting for your meal. Luckily, I had my placemat and crayons as a distraction.
After eating, I explored the rest of Crayola Kansas City,
including the store and their fun exhibits. And then I saw them – right there by the door. As a kid, I’d always wanted one of those giant crayon piggy banks. But I mean, does anyone really ever buy those? Um, yes. As it turns out, they do. (I’m still figuring out where to put it in my house.)
I drove to the hotel. When I crossed the state line into
Kansas, I burst into tears. It was like I was finally home. I didn’t know Kansas was home – I’ve never really been able to claim anywhere as my hometown, because we moved so much growing up. But suddenly, all was right with the world again. Everything was as it should be.
As I drifted off to sleep, I realized something. In general, I spend a lot of time talking about “the girl I used to be.” But what if, underneath it all, underneath the past mistakes and the old pain – what if that little girl was still inside? The one who loves her Kansas City sports teams, wants a Crayola bank, and still thinks it’s awesome to dance to Michael Jackson? What if I’m not so far from the old me after all? What if little Ally has just been waiting for her cue? Waiting for
her time to know it was really okay to shine?
What if, indeed. It was something to think about, and something that would continue to be on my mind – and heart – for the next four days as I explored the city I once called home.
And that, my friends, was just the first day.
On the blog tomorrow: Day 2, including my trip to see the Royals play ball for the first time since I was a kid, an encounter with animated characters that pretty much rocked my socks, and learning to roll with the punches when things don’t go as planned.