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  • Writer's pictureKT Fletcher

Trial By Fire

Is anyone ever really ready? Even writing this blog, I'm wondering if I'm ready for this to be published, ready to start this journey, ready take on anything big that could be life changing...

Taking a trip is scary, and not just an international expedition, any trip really is scary. Going on an adventure somewhere new where the outcome is something unpredictable, and even though you've planned every moment down to the second, you're never really sure everything will happen as it should. Or perhaps you prefer the other method, of picking your destination and planning nothing, seeing where the wind takes you, unsure of how things will unfold. No matter, with either it's trial by fire. You won't know unless you try. You won't know until you face the flames head on and decide how to handle it.

I have tried both methods on my travels. Planning every detail down to the second, trying to see every square inch of every castle in Wales. And I have also, boarded a train to Germany, late at night nowhere to stay, and no certainty on where I was going. Both instances led to a head to head with me in terror facing the raw unpredictability of flames.

In Wales, I was completely alone, and it was pouring. The coat and shoes I spent months picking out, were not nearly as waterproof as they claimed to be. I had done research, and decided these options were enough, and that I definitely didn't need the most expensive waterproof jacket, instead I could splurge on some fancy snow boots I just may need for Germany (I never did). I had walked over two hours looking for a damn trail, that led me through rural land, and what I thought was going to be my demise. I was freezing, and it was getting dark, and dammit I had planned this day and hike. It was not supposed to happen this way. I was furious. I had no cell reception, so my only option was to try and retrace my steps. Back through rural land, and through the utter downpour of rain, I felt my feet slowly lose feeling. I hopped fences, and crossed streams, my clothes were completely soaked through. The cursing under my breath became loud swearing, until finally I found a road. A road! I ran, bringing all the feeling back to my feet, then I saw some lights, then the inn, then before I knew it, my sopping wet sneakers brought me whizzing into the lobby. I bolted straight up to my room, ripping off my coat, and shivering all the way up the stairs. After a hot shower, and a deserved nights rest, I spent the next morning using the hair dryer to dry my coat and shoes, because, as I’ve mentioned it had been that much god damn rain. But when I was drying off my coat, I thought through the miserable rainy hike. I had seen the most incredible mushrooms; it had seemed like pictures from a fairy-tale. A whole tiny fairy village untouched my human eyes, and I got to see it, all because of a stupid mishap somewhere in my plans. The perfect little fungi clinging to a tree stump, looked like something I’d imagined countless times on a D&D adventure, or the hours and hours spent reading Neil Gaiman. So even when I sat shivering in my damp coat on the train to my next destination, I couldn't help but smile a little. What a comical story, and a miraculous mishap to mushrooms. Sometimes plans falling to pieces are near hypothermia are worth it.

On my way to Germany, I had a vague plan, but really nothing was concrete. I had a 12 AM train ticket, with a layover in Frankfurt, and eventually I would end up in Berlin. Not sure when I would get there, or where I would stay, but that could be fun right? The train system in Germany is notoriously terrible, and the layover in Frankfurt became a thing of nightmares. First the train was delayed, so they moved back our departure time. Then the platform for our departure changed so many times, there are not near enough foul words to do it justice. Cut to a very tired Katie, with a large suitcase, who has not eaten, and is starting to divulge into panic mode at 2 AM. A girl roughly my age approaches me, speaking what I believe to be very broken German, and I respond in English letting her know apologetically that I only speak English. She, much to my surprise, seems relieved and begins speaking in fairly clear English, she asks if I know where the train is and what time it is leaving. I had managed at this point to figure out both the platform and time, so I shared the information with her. The Frankfurt train station is terrifying, especially at night when you are traveling alone for the first time, so I felt better having another female my age standing near me looking just as panicked and tired as I was. Magically, we both exchanged glances, and almost in unison, asked to stay together for the duration of the train ride. The level of friendship I felt in that moment is unmatched, it is a rare thing to feel that level of trust in such an instant to say I will sleep next to you and trust you with my personal safety. For the duration of the trip, we got to know each other, her name was Alina and she was fleeing from Ukraine, so I felt extremely protective of her and knew she needed to reach her destination, it was much more important than mine. I stayed up all night waiting for her stop to make sure she got off alright, and I could say goodbye. Chance meetings and connections like that are rare, and I'll never forget that instant closeness or feeling of friendship. That never would have happened if I had planned on taking the train at a regular time, with a set schedule or plans to uphold.

The point is this, no matter what, you'll never be ready. There will always be a reason to wait, or to stop trying, or to cancel. So embrace the unknowing, enjoy the trial by fire, and take the trip you’ve always wanted. In the unknown come memories we never expect. Sometimes this means difficulties, life changes, or uncomfortably wet clothes, but it can also mean tiny fairy villages or new friends. Go on the adventure you've always wanted and find your own fairy village. I promise you might get singed here or there, but you'll come through stronger, with a burning desire to go on an even bigger adventure.


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1 Comment

Sep 21, 2023

Wild stuff! I'd agree no one is ever really ready for a trip, even when it feels like there is no more preparation to do! Reminds me of the last time I was lost in the wilds. I'll have to try it again sometime! (Safely of course, always be careful and prepare for the worst)

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