Thursday, 12 June 2014

On Top of the World

“‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.”

On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons

The idea of jumping aboard a Contiki appealed to me as I wanted more than just sightseeing when I went solo travelling. I wanted adventure and I wanted to meet new people, and the LA to the Bay tour of West Coast America seemed perfect for me. Contiki has a great set up where you can chat online before your tour starts and I spent the weeks leading up to the trip interacting with people I was soon to meet. In saying this, I think the first person you meet from your tour is always special. I met Clarissa in the shuttle van when we left the airport for our first hotel and we chatted about where we were from and what we were excited for, and we headed out for dinner that night with another girl on our tour. Two days later we were with the rest of the group and off to San Diego.  

It’s said your Contiki group becomes your family. It’s a bit of a dysfunctional family because you get drunk together pretty much every night and different members of the group get busy shagging each other, but you’re a family nonetheless. It comes from the shared feeling that everyone is there to have a good time, and being put into situations with new people brings you closer together. You have one conversation with someone then you are paired together in a speedboat and trust each other to drive it safely (for the record, I DID NOT nearly crash). You sit next to another new friend from the other side of the world in the front of a helicopter and take in the stunning views of the Grand Canyon together. You dance together at clubs, you comment on new foods as you eat dinner next to someone different each night, you play beer pong together, you see stunning new sights and create memories for life, and despite how much you say you hate it you all sing the day song together when you travel to the next city – ours was On Top of the World.

Yes, you become one big loving family out having the craziest and best time of your life, until you have to deal with family tragedy. We had to leave Clarissa in Las Vegas. I wish I could write that she decided to end her tour early and run off into the Nevada sunset after her shotgun wedding, but that’s not what happened. I remember sitting in the room with the others when we were told she never made it out of the hospital the night before. I heard someone behind me break down first, then other faces slowly crumbled and I felt myself going the same way. There was a lot of comforting and helping each other out that day, and the days following, because that’s what families do.

We went to a pub in Bass Lake two nights later and we sung On Top of the World together for Clarissa. Then I went outside and I cried and I cried and when people tried to tell me it was okay to be upset I cried some more because I was so overcome with emotion. I’ve been writing this blog for two and a half years and on this night my tour group that I’d known for such a short time cemented every belief I have about music. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or the fact that you’ve only known a group of people for seven days, you can still have moments where music brings you together and without saying words you can say everything. Together, as a Contiki family, we sung our final farewells to our girl who had come to USA for an adventure, to feel on top of the world.

Over the course of the tour there were thousands of photos taken, capturing the moments of craziness and moments of wonder as we travelled around the West Coast of USA. I want to share with you my favourite photo. This was taken at the Grand Canyon and I love the contradiction in it. When you stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon and look at the thousands of miles of beautiful rock formation you feel so small and insignificant. But then you look next to you and you realize what a big influence one person can have on your life.

To my Contiki family, with love.

1 comment:

  1. That is a beautiful blog Renee. Truly captures the moments we had together (even the tragic ones).