As I sit here in my quarantine at home and go through all of my vlogs, pictures, Snapchats and journal entries from my trip to Cardiff, Wales in late February and early March, I can’t help but smile uncontrollably.
Time right now seems so meaningless, with some days feeling like weeks and some weeks feeling like seconds, but this trip feels like it just happened yesterday.
Like just yesterday, I was boarding my first international flight with some of my closest friends, clueless to the extent of the adventure we were embarking on together. Eating my first in-flight meal with a childish wonder, excited for my first in-flight movie over international waters.
I had never been on such a long flight before — or even out of the country — so while some were dreading this experience, I could hardly contain my excitement. Landing in Amsterdam, knowing that I was stepping foot in a foreign country for the first time, I was too excited for the week ahead to care about the last 20 hours without sleep.
Just yesterday, we were exploring Cardiff Met University, meeting our soon-to-be international friends for the first time, not aware of the many lifelong friendships we were about to make with these wonderful people.
Meeting athletes with extraordinary stories to tell, giving us their trust while producing their features with our own creative eyes. Stepping foot in our rag-tag hostel, the Nos Da, for the first time, not realizing that in the next 12 days this sleeping arrangement with spring-filled beds and loud live-music would become our little home while in Cardiff.
Just yesterday, I walked into a Welsh pub for the first time with all of my friends, experiencing a new level of Welsh culture and being introduced to my new favorite cider.
Tasting “bubblegin”, a sparkly, pink, delicious, sugary concoction that we will surely never forget and live our entire lives trying to re-create, for the first time in The Prince of Wales with Olivia.
Going to Bingo Lingo with bewildered and sparkling eyes, laughing, dancing, and singing at the top of my lungs to Dancing Queen and Don’t Stop Me Now with my best friends.
Standing in front of the stage at a pub, watching my friends sing their hearts out to Mr. Brightside with a band behind them, performing to us and the rest of the crowd.
Even standing ON that same stage with Seena, singing Shake it Off without a care in the world of how I sounded or what I looked like, having the absolute time of my life.
Walking the beautiful downtown streets of Cardiff at night, wondering if life could possibly get any better than it was.
Just yesterday, I was touring stadiums, castles and museums filled with more history and culture than I could ever imagine. I was walking through the market, eating delicious Welsh cakes for the first time and spending my first pounds in Wales, simply amazed at the beautiful architecture and sense of community surrounding me.
Playing soccer (or football, rather) with my Sports Link friends, not caring that I was out of breath and clearly out of shape. I was watching a Cardiff City match, cheering loudly when Cardiff scored even though I had no idea who the players were because cheering just felt right.
I was at a Cardiff Devils match, laughing and cheering with friends, enjoying the atmosphere that Welsh sport culture provides.
Just yesterday, I was surrounded by so much natural beauty that I was left speechless looking over the Wales countryside from the peak of Pen Y Fan. I was hiking a mountain, despite my calves screaming at me because of the incline, knowing the beauty that was ahead.
Breaking bread with my friends, celebrating the feat we just accomplished; having a snowball fight on the peak, filled with happiness and childish motives knowing we were experiencing something amazing together.
I was descending that same mountain, laughing uncontrollably watching and recording Ryan Klimcak stumble and fall down the snowy decline multiple times. I was exploring Dunraven Bay, taking pictures and amazed at the true beauty of Wales, not wanting to leave anytime soon.
Just yesterday, I was having the time of my life.
We were there to film a documentary, and we did, but that trip was so much more to me than that. As we all sat in the Nos Da with each other on our last night in Cardiff, I think that we knew what had just occurred in the last 12 days.
We were all smiling, laughing, reminiscing on what we had just experienced. One by one people left, hugging and saying their goodbyes before doing so. I found it so hard to leave that lobby that night, knowing that going up to my room meant that my once-in-a-lifetime experience would be over.
In those moments, I knew that this trip was special. I knew that I would never forget it. I knew the friendships I had made and bonds I had created were going to last a lifetime, but I wasn’t ready to leave them yet.
Just yesterday, this was my reality. But today, I’m back in Indiana. And regardless of the state of the world right now, I have this wonderful experience to look back on and I wouldn’t change a single second of it. And if I could do it all again, I surely would in a heartbeat.
Today, I wish it could be just yesterday one more time.