I opened my purse and gently pulled out the pillowcase that contained my three-foot long ball python. Her 50 gallon tank filled up the entire back seat of my dead volvo, and there was no way to sneak it into my hotel room. It was the middle of winter, and I had to keep my beloved pet, my familiar, warm.
"Are you alright, Oya?" I asked, stroking the smooth scales along her back as she poked her head out of the pillowcase and tasted the unfamiliar air. She slithered up my arm to curl around my neck and shoulders, beneath my hair, and I giggled as her movement tickled me.
Yeah, I was out of money. Yeah, the mechanic wouldn't even go to work for another two days, so I wouldn't even know if my car was fixable until then. Yeah, I didn't know how I was going to get home to Florida, or where I was going to live once I got there.
I told my best friend over the phone that I was the happiest I could ever remember being. And I meant it.
Maybe I should have been stressed out, freaking out, overwhelmed with worry. Screw that. I'd spent the previous few months feeling helpless and hopeless, powerless. And then I chose to leave. I'd gathered the fragments of my personal power together, and I'd stayed up all night to pack my belongings into my little car and get out of that hell hole before my abuser awoke. I was strong. I was in control of my life. Everything was going to be fine, awesome, amazing even.
Maybe I was temporarily stuck so I could have a few days to let go of all that I'd been through in the previous months, so I didn't bring that baggage with me back to Florida and the next phase of my life.
I could have wallowed in depression and made myself sick with anxiety. I could have raged at the unfairness of it all.
But I chose to make my life an adventure. A choose-my-own adventure in which I was both the heroine and the writer.
My adventure was just beginning.