Author’s Note: Hi everyone! This is my flash draft so far. My words were intrepid and perfectionist. I feel like I have a lot of good detail, but I have some questions inside my story about whether it makes sense. Thanks for reading! — Melly)
A time I was intrepid was…when I traveled to Denver last weekend for a debate coaches’ conference. I’ve traveled alone before, but it has been a minute, and I always knew most of the people where I was going. This time, I knew only one person, and I wasn’t sure if he was going to be near me at all. I almost missed my flight out of St. Louis, too, which royally freaked me out.
The hold music for Southwest Airlines cheeping in my ear did nothing to slow down my heartbeat. I hoped that the people standing beside me in the TSA line couldn’t hear it — I felt like my veins were about to explode out of my body. The faster my heart beat, the slower the line seemed to go; meanwhile, the minutes ticked away on my watch. 2:31. 2:33. 2:35. For a flight that boarded at 2:15, this did not look good.
“I’m so nervous about flying, I threw up in the parking lot,” someone admitted behind me.
“What? Are you serious? Everything will be okay, flying isn’t that big a deal.”
The reassurance wasn’t meant for me, but it still felt good…for about three seconds.
“Flying’s no big deal so long as you’re early. If you’re late, you’re screwed.”
“This is Southwest Airlines, paging passenger Christina Melly…Christina Melly, please report to gate D8 immediately for departure…”
I felt like every head in the security line swiveled to look at me. All I could do was raise my hand without letting it shake.
“Trying my best here,” I announced to no one in particular. It was a relief to duck down and unlace my shoes to go through security. I hung up the phone — annoying wait music finallly ending — and placed my bag on the x-ray belt. There was nothing to do now but wait my turn.
(A/N: This feels like a good place to stop, tell a different story, and come back — there’s suspense.)
The reason I was in this situation to begin with has to do with being a perfectionist. Deep down, I knew that I couldn’t pack, teach, get to the airport, and fly out of town all in the same day without making some sacrifices, but my perfectionist side refused to accept it. There had to be a way I could make it all work! — and that way meant standing in a TSA line five minutes before my plane was scheduled to take off. This perfectionist streak isn’t anything new. Since I was a teenager, I’ve struggled with my perfectionism and all of the stress it causes me.
My beating heart took me back to sophomore year, sixteen and standing in the kitchen with my angry mother. The bright, ten-pm light burned my eyes, or maybe it was the tears I refused to let go.
“Why am I just hearing about this project tonight?” Her words were clipped, just like her patience. Water droplets spilled from her hair as she shook her head in annoyance at me.
“I’ve been working on it for a week.”
“I don’t understand why it’s my emergency when you didn’t think ahead.”
“But I –”
“Get it done, fast! I’m going to bed.”
Perfection takes time, I thought to myself, but didn’t reply. My mom just didn’t understand. I started researching Revolutionary War figures six days ago, when the project was first assigned by Ms. Shelton. Hours of reading later, I knew enough to begin writing my journal from the point=of-view of a teenager during the Revolutionary War. She would be a servant, and might overhear pieces of information, but most of my writing would be about the high taxes, weird changes, and tension in the air.
Researching took two days; writing, three more; figuring out how to make typed, bleached paper look old, another half a day. That left me sitting on my kitchen floor at 10:00pm surrounded by printer paper and bowls of cold coffee grounds. My mom stomped up the stairs to go to bed. I shrugged. Doing this project right meant sacrifices: right now, that meant giving up my sleep and our positive relationship. I would make up the sleep and the apologies, but later. There was work to do now. (A/N: Is this a weird point to end this story? I feel like it’s less detailed and interesting than the airport part.)