Dash of Sass: You’ve Gotta Break a Few Rules if You Wanna Make History

Quote of the Day:

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ~Douglas Adams

The Single Woman Says:

It was the summer of 2010. One of the “little girls” I babysat for during my teenage years, Alli, was interning with my company that summer. She was a senior in college and 21 years old, about the same age I was when I had stopped babysitting her and her sister a decade earlier.

Alli and I had traveled out to far west Tennessee for work to award a rural community center with brand new computers. We were on our way back, windows down, radio up, enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful scenery of Tennessee’s backroads when all of a sudden Alli shrieked “STOP!”

I jumped a foot in the air, nearly swerving off the road. “What in the world?” I asked her, a bit irritated.

“Look!” she cried, pointing off into a distant field. “It’s a zebra!”

I looked at her with concern. Had the rolled down windows caused her to be exposed to too much sun?

“Alli, this is Tennessee, not the tundras of Africa! I seriously doubt you saw a zeb….” I trailed off. There, emerging from the bushes, in the middle of Tennessee, was a zebra.

“What?!” I couldn’t believe my eyes. “What is going on? Why is there a zebra wandering through a field in west Tennessee?”

I turned the car around so we could get closer and inspect the situation. As we approached the zebra, we noticed a giant billboard on the side of the road that we had somehow managed to miss, advertising the “Tennessee Safari Park! Over 60 species of exotic animals!”

Alli and I exchanged a glance. “We have to go!” we said in unison, giggling.

As we rolled into the long, bumpy driveway of the safari, we realized that it was, quite literally, a safari. For the first part of the safari experience, visitors were allowed to drive through the rolling hills of the animal habitat in their vehicles, viewing the animals as they grazed. You could even purchase food to hold out the windows to the animals, which of course Alli and I did. As we approached the first group of animals, though, we started to lose our nerve a bit. An enormous ostrich was thundering up to Alli’s window with an intent look on his (her?) face.

“Eeeeeek!” Alli shrieked in horror as the giant bird loomed outside her window. “I’ve heard that ostriches spit when they get mad! I’m scared!!!!” she reached over to quickly roll up her window. The ostrich started pecking furiously at the side of my car, not happy about our decision to deny him the treat he had lumbered over to get.

I was so focused on what was going on over on Alli’s side of the car, I received a shock of my own when I turned to look out my own window and found a gazelle staring in at me curiously. My window was still rolled up, and now, looking at the size of the gazelle’s horns, I intended to keep it that way. Just as put off as the ostrich, the gazelle started nudging the side of my car with his horns. It was like an episode of Animal Kingdom gone wild.

“We have to get out of here before my gazelle and your ostrich destroy my car!” I yelped, before pausing to consider what I had just said. “Wow, that’s not a sentence you say every day.”

Alli and I managed to make it out of the safari with my car relatively unharmed, and found the second part of the animal park, a petting zoo, much more to our liking. We got to hold a giant talking parrot, pet a baby kangaroo, and take pictures next to a stately giraffe. And we got home about three hours later than we intended that afternoon as a result of our little detour…but it was worth every moment. You see, through that animal safari and the work trips and the dozens of other silly shenanigans we found ourselves embroiled in that summer, Alli became one of my best friends. Something that might have never happened had we paused to consider the sensibility of stopping off in west Tennessee for a day of frolicking with exotic animals. Today is Alli’s birthday, and I am so very thankful for her presence in my life and for the summer in which I transitioned from her former babysitter to one of her best friends. I don’t know how responsible it was to spend three hours of work time at an animal safari in the middle of nowhere, but I am thankful that we broke the rules and lived in the moment. What if we hadn’t? What if we had missed out on creating that priceless day of memories in order to do what was “right?” I’m no longer at that job, but Alli will be one of my dearest friends forever. Three years later, I wouldn’t remember just another day at the office had we returned to work that day instead of taking our little carpe diem detour…but I’ll remember our crazy adventure for the rest of my life.

I guess my point to all this is to say: Be irresponsible sometimes. Take the long way home. Live in the moment a little more and play it safe a little less. Dare to occasionally veer wildly off the beaten path…and you just might find where you belong.

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