When I was young, in elementary school and even in middle school, I was extremely shy. I would run around and play with friends like most kids, but I hated being at the center of attention. If I didn’t understand something in school, I wouldn’t raise my hand to ask because I didn’t want classmates to notice me. I suffered from an extreme sort of perfectionism and worked slowly and meticulously at everything. I didn’t want to mess up. I dreaded it to the point of stress stomachaches that landed me in the nurse’s office almost every day of second grade.
Perhaps not surprising, but writing was one of my ways out. My online handle since age fifteen has been “Arialas,” the protagonist of a novel I wrote in eighth grade. She was who I wanted to be — outgoing and fearless — the kind of girl who went on adventures and challenged the status quo (a time traveling feminist — hey, I was thirteen!). When I started playing online role-playing games, I adopted her name and attitude as my own, and slowly, the more outgoing online personality seeped into my everyday one, and I started to speak up and ask questions and do things.
I was thinking about this last week. The spring here has been dreadful — cold and rainy — and we’re STILL dealing with construction in the apartment below ours (which began at the end of December), so my mood has been nasty. I don’t want to leave the house because of the weather, but staying in makes me stir crazy, and everything annoys me, especially the noise. I need sunshine and warmth and last May was stunning, so I’ve been down about nearly everything. Worse, Andrew’s been frustrated with his PhD program and his own work, so the two of us have been reinforcing each other’s awful moods.
We had to stop, so I decided to get us out of the apartment to do something fun and looked at my old Pinterest Places to Visit board and found a museum we hadn’t visited yet in a town close to ours — La Maison d’Ailleurs, or the Science Fiction Museum. And as I love to research and plan, I looked into this town and discovered that it’s named Yverdon-les-Bains for the thermal springs that have been used for bathing since Roman times. Then I found a combined discount for the train, sci fi museum, and thermal baths, and a plan was born…
Sitting in a hot bath sounded like the perfect way to drive away the cold wetness in my bones and joints and mind. If the weather was okay, we could visit Neolithic menhirs, 7500 acres of wetlands, Roman ruins, and Lake Neuchâtel, and if it was awful, the castle across from the sci fi museum housed several other museums. No matter what, we’d visit La Maison d’Ailleurs and the thermal baths; otherwise we’d make up our minds as we went along.
We didn’t have time to do everything on my list in Yverdon but had a lovely time exploring and now have many reasons to go back. And while I was researching Yverdon, I found another town nearby that’s having a rose show on June 1st at an abbey built between 990 and 1030 (I adore roses), and then next door, there’s going to be a cryptozoology-themed art opening at a small gallery. Turns out there’s also some stunning hiking close to this little town, with limestone quarries and a waterfall, so my one-day plan has expanded across multiple weekends.
This post is a reminder to self of an old lesson: to live as the protagonist, not as a spectator. And if the world currently sucks, revise it. Further adventure awaits.