Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: A break from yourself


This hard airport floor that I had been sleeping on for four hours was becoming more comfortable by the minute.

The surround sound system of CNN news blaring over the entire airport seemed non-existent, because the five of us girls were suffering from the redeye flight.

The flight looked good on paper and even better on the credit card. But no dollar could be put on the amount of memories made on this layover.

During the four-hour layover in Atlanta, I joked about missing our flight because we had been there for so long.

When my friend screamed, "We are missing our flight. They are closing the gate," and abruptly awakened me, my sarcasm was no longer funny. I jumped up from the floor half asleep and started yelling and screaming.

To my surprise, the airport was no longer vacant like at 3 a.m., and I was welcomed by hundreds of laughing faces. This humiliation is comparable to jumping off the diving board in middle school to find that when you surface, your bathing suit did not.

Humiliation aside, we made it on the flight with 30 seconds spare.

Still, this memory will be instilled in my mind forever. And so are the other memories from this trip.

Our final destination was Indianapolis, with a road trip to Chicago for St. Patrick's Day.

Why were we sleeping on airport floors to head to the Midwest?

Because it is that time of year.

The time of year when snow begins to melt, the landscape gets a little greener, and you cruise in your car with windows down.

But with this time of year also comes exhaustion.

You are exhausted from your busy class schedule, overtime at work, or even a stressful relationship. And you need a break.

A spring break.

While the rest of our school went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for spring break to enjoy mojitos on the beach, swimsuits and foreign college students, my girlfriends and I went to a little place called Crawfordville, Ind.

Spring break is most commonly associated with out of control carefree college students who check their dignity at baggage check as well as their morals.

Some associate spring break with advertisements on TV and others, MTV spring break edition. But the reason that spring break comes with these stereotypes is because it is acceptable and expected by the public.

And I am sure that you, like the locals at Diggers Cafe in Crawfordville, are questioning why five California girls would ditch the glamour for simple living.

Why not?

In a way, spring break is taking a break from you. It is a time when even the valedictorian, class president and teacher's pet let loose.

Spring break for college students is the one time where finding clarification for their actions is not needed and the obvious response to any out of character performance is 'It's Spring Break, Duh.'

And everyone nods their head in agreement because this is their reasoning behind someone dancing with two best friends or getting a boy's number even though she has a boyfriend back home.

As the famous line quotes: what happens on spring break stays on spring break.

We could have gone to Cabo and fell into the stereotype of college spring breakers. But for me, the straight roads, cornfields and Midwest accents gave me peace.

And though the memories of the Kelly green Chicago River, the pub-crawl on a trolley, and the late night french fry run to the largest McDonald's will be associated with my Spring Break 2008, the hour drive to Crawfordsville with four of my best friends and nothing but open fields surrounding us will be the finest memory.

This was my break.

We broke free of troubled relationships, the loss of loved ones and missing friendships and just sang the lyrics of the Rascal Flatts song no reins, " Oh, oh I gotta go and find me. She found the strength to break free."


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