The other tradition, which has been a mistake both times it has taken place- is to stay in an exuberant hotel for one night. While in France, I misread a sign and got off at the wrong station. Since there were no more outgoing trains that night, I had to find lodging; the only accommodation in the quant French village was an upperclass hotel. Again, that night was again, memorable- simply because of the money that I had to shovel over for a night beyond my financial means. This trip was no different- I miscalculated, and was stuck in Rapid City, South Dakota with no outgoing travel available. Because there was a huge basketball tournament at the same time of my stay, the only rooms available were at the grand and old Alex Johnson hotel; probably the nicest hotel that I've stepped foot into, let alone stayed in. At the very top- on floor number ten, there is an elegant restaurant with an outdoor patio and fires burning low in the center of each table. Here is a little bit of my experience and thoughts around said table:
Firelight reflects in my eyes; the flickering ambience mingles with the porter and my head swims through complete, luxuriant, satisfaction. The twang of country music softly peddles in the background- warmed by the fire in front and genuinely enjoyed conversation to my left and right. I had ordered a burger and beer, and the couple sitting at the other table invited me to join with them- in both conversation and mutual immersion into the blessed and beautiful night; with the soft breeze gently singing over cars passing by far, far below. The restaurant is atop a beautiful old hotel, which creaks and groans in all the right ways, and smells like cinnamon and Christmas; both of which I immensely appreciate. This is not the north, where a mere nod of human acknowledgement would suffice in place of the invitation. Especially towards lonely me; lost in thought, lost in solitude, lost in the joy of living. But instead, this wonderful couple invited me into their world; into their intimate dinner conversation, a pleasure of which I was both flattered and happy to accept.
If you're looking for me, I'll be hangin' out with President Washington and his pals- drinking American made craft beer atop the luxuriant Alex Johnson Hotel- right smack dead in the middle of pretty little Rapid City, South Dakota. The sweetest town you've ever seen.
The question was proposed: what was the proudest moment of my life? After much consideration, I resulted upon the art contest that I won during the end of my senior year of high school- to that point, I had received little affirmation of any talent; being home schooled and separated from my peers educationally speaking, I had nothing or anyone to compare my achievements to. When I succeeded, my skills were affirmed- this led to all sorts of progress; both academically and personally. But more than that, it led to more art; which led to more art; which led to the man that I am today; which led to a greyhound bus trip across america.
During the trip, my perspective on America changed; the view of my homeland has since broadened: from cliffs red with afternoon sun- that leap out over the swaying yellow grain, to the blue mountains more saturated with color than that great flag; to the the white fog that races over cliffs, down into the valleys and over my bare toes enveloping me in mist and wonder: I have been left in awe at the diversity and landscape of this nation. America, I cannot put into words how beautiful you are. Not even the mightiest cathedral in Rome- nor the intricate fortresses of Germany, that boast wealth and strength- built in splendor and glory, perceived to be the greatest creation on earth, can hold a candle to your painted skies and mighty rivers. Steeping down the blue mountains, rushing over rocks and into imaginations with magnificent triumph and shouts of victory- I am blessed to call your white shores and rolling hills my home. You have inspired poets; bolstered patriots, and freed peasants- you and everything that you stand for, is beautiful.
I would gladly add my red blood to your clay as many have done before; I would gladly uphold your liberties and safety; I would gladly reside within your borders until my hair turns grey and fingers tremble with age; until they lay my body down into your sacred earth.
America, I will always love you.