By the time I finish writing this and it is published, I will have about an hour before I jump in a car heading to Cleveland and about six hours before I board a plane heading to Vegas. I am sitting on my bed with every single widow in my apartment open, the sound of construction and the fresh Spring air drifting up to the third floor, writing as a way to calm my nerves and pass the hour. The first (and only) time I have ever flown was to Ireland last May, and while I am not a complete mess like I was then, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit anxious. A huge part of the reason I signed up to study abroad in Ireland was because I knew I would have to fly, and I knew that once I got accepted into their program there was absolutely no backing out. Travel has been and will always be a very large part of my life, and I didn’t want that part of me to be crippled by my fears any longer.
It is March 9th and 72º in Ohio; this week in the desert it will be nearing 80º. I am a summer person; I thrive most when I am not wearing shoes, spinning around in sundresses, eating watermelon, swimming in creeks and camping out beneath the stars. I belong outside; in my mind, summer equals freedom. This weather we are currently experiencing feels like freedom to me. It is early May with a week until graduation and a life full of adventure dangling just out of reach. I am getting excited, but I am also getting two months ahead of myself. My fear is that after a week in Vegas, four days back in Ohio and a twenty-four hour drive to the Rocky Mountains, I won’t be able to come back and run the last leg of the race.
I am overjoyed right now, filled with excitement as I look on to the weeks ahead. All of these adventures have come out of careful planning, lots of saving, an incredible amount of hard work and a need to see this big, beautiful country. It is so hard for me to believe that March is finally here, that all of my dedication is about to pay off and that I get to run away to make art. That is all I have ever wanted to do. In high school that seemed crazy, unattainable, and now, four years later, I have realized that this life is totally within my reach. Absolutely anything is possible if you are willing to put forth the effort to see it through.
Going to art school was a choice I made because I didn’t want a job, but rather a lifestyle. I didn’t want to go to work and be one person and then come home and be another. I wanted to be Katie Jo Smith in all situations, to make a living and a name for myself doing something that I loved. So far March has brought me a lot of wonderful opportunities, and as I sit here, two months from graduation, I am not scared. Everything is unknown, but I truly have faith that it will all work out, that there are bigger and better things in store for me than I could ever imagine for myself. This trip to Las Vegas for the SPE Nation Conference is defiantly the first step towards this bright future. So here’s to saying yes to every opportunity and eating butter bread every night for dinner, to nights with four hours of sleep, and days of nonstop making. Here’s to getting on a plane, or in a car and experiencing this one, crazy, beautiful life.