Twenty-one is a spectacular number. When you're 20, you're so fresh out of adolescence that you kind of feel like a faker. Like, yeah, you're in your 20s, but just barely. Yeah, you're an adult, but you can't even get into bars. And if your circle of friends consists of older people, like mine, then you're basically screwed when everyone wants to go out on Friday nights and have a good time. Either they'll leave you at home, or you're the barrier to all the fun.
Turning 21 is such sweet relief.
When it comes to introversion, my personality hits the nail on the head . . . which is why I decided to pay a visit to the mountains for my 21st birthday celebration. I'm from a small-ish town in the Midwest, and I was thrilled to return to someplace remote. Where it's quiet. Where I can't be bothered by the sometimes overwhelming buzz of the city. Where I can appreciate nature, relax, and read a book with a glass of red wine and a gorgeous, unbeatable backdrop. My perfect weekend.
In reality, the trip couldn't have been further from it.
My boyfriend and I planned the stay about a week and a half prior. I researched online and chose a vintage bed and breakfast in a stately Victorian house, located smack dab in the middle of the wilderness. The closest town was about five miles away by one road consisting of a general store, a saloon, a small diner or two, and a few other miscellaneous businesses. The house itself was surrounded by trees and mountains, with a river and a couple horses. The place was as rural as it gets. I couldn't have been more thrilled for this country girl adventure, which played into my wildest Little House on the Prairie fantasies (not your average 21-year-old, I guess).
The morning after my birthday, we rented a car and took off for the wild, armed with our toothbrushes, a change of clothes, a bottle of Pinot Noir, and our bathing suits for the nearby swimming hole (yep, a genuine swimming hole).
We arrived at the big house three hours later. A lone cow mooed in the distance. A few flies swarmed. Otherwise, the silence was deafening.
My boyfriend and I walked up the porch and knocked on the door. No answer. We knocked again. Waited. Looked around. What the hell?
Finally, a sweaty farmhand came around and gave us a tour. The heat prompted me to inquire about the swimming hole. "It's all dried up," he said. Oh.
The guy showed us to our room, which was, in fact, the wrong one. After informing him and making the switch, we settled in and chalked it up to a weird start. The room was beautiful, after all. There were dead beetles all over the windowsill, but whatever . . . this was the woods, right? We politely asked the staff — who, apparently, were in the kitchen at the back of the house — if they could clean the bugs up, and they obliged.
Now we were ready for the real fun to begin. I explored the grounds while we contemplated where to go and what to do first.
I wandered to the gardens out back, where I saw a cute black and white dog sitting on a tractor. I've always been a dog person, so naturally, I approached it, hand out for sniffing.
Before I even realized what was happening, the dog pinned his ears, reared backward, and snarled ferociously. There was not a doubt in my mind that it was preparing to leap . . . right onto my face. The dog and I were at eye level, and I was terrified. I backed away, as slowly as possible, until I was safely out of range.
What. The. F*ck.
Apparently, the owners didn't think it important to mention they have an unfriendly animal. At a bed and breakfast. All righty, then.
Comparatively, the rest of the night went smoothly. We hiked the trails and took amazing snapshots. We ate dinner at the one Mexican restaurant within five miles, and the food was delicious. We made use of the room's jacuzzi. I fell asleep at 10:30 after a few gulps of the Pinot Noir (typical me), but the evening was pleasant nonetheless.
The next morning, however, was a different story.
We got up early, ate breakfast, and hopped in the car so we could make it over to a waterfall about 10 miles away. One problem: it wouldn't start. The car whined weakly when we turned the key. We hadn't left the lights on the night before. There was plenty of gas left in the tank. There was no explanation for it.
The old lady who ran the place fetched us her cables, and we tried to jump-start the thing . . . to no avail. It simply would. Not. Go.
We borrowed the woman's laptop and landline telephone because we were devoid of any cell signal. My boyfriend googled the rental company's support line, and as he did so, I sat in the living room and read my book to pass the time.
The old lady walked by. I looked up from the pages. "How many times do I have to move these shoes? I've kicked them away three times now!" She yelled, shoving my flip-flops with her foot, which lay harmlessly on the welcome mat at the entrance of the house.
I sat there, stunned. I'm terrible with confrontation, so I simply walked over to my boyfriend and told him what happened while he waited on the phone to get a hold of someone from the company, feeling like I was on the verge of angry tears. I'm not entirely sure she saw me sitting there, but she had to have known I was nearby. And we were paying $250 for this stay! No matter if she has certain rules in her house — which I hadn't been made aware of, anyway — yelling at a paying customer for something so utterly insignificant, such as shoes placed in the wrong area, exceeds unprofessionalism.
Eventually, we were informed that our car had been remotely deactivated because we were driving "out of range." And by the time it was reactivated, we had one hour left at the bed and breakfast. I was ready to just get the hell out of there and pretend the whole thing hadn't happened.
I left the house quietly and slid in the passenger seat of the now-working car, waiting for my boyfriend to get the last of his things. When he returned, he told me he'd given the owner a piece of his mind, informing her that he was offended by the way she yelled and that he'd expected better service. I had to smile.
Fifteen miles out, we drove through the last of the mountains, the tips touching the clouds, luscious forest green all around the winding roads . . . and I was reminded that life shouldn't revolve around just the good — it's the experience that counts. I wanted an adventure, a story to tell, and I got that. More than my fair share of it. So while my 21st wasn't exactly what I'd expected, and by no means was a perfect weekend, I find comfort in the fact that, hey, no matter what this existence deals me, I can handle it. Make the best of it, even. And isn't that was this is all about?