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Although $3 was exorbitant for a caramel latte in Laos, it included a comfy chair and internet. And if I counted the latte as lunch and breakfast, it actually helped me stay on my $20 a day budget. Balancing my laptop and latte, I opened my Hotmail account and was surprised to see an email from Jen. I hadnít heard from her in over six months. Eagerly, I opened it first. "Hey! Howís it going? It sounds like youíre having a great time traveling the world. I guess my only good excuse for not contacting you before now would be if I had a life-threatening disease or something. Guess what? Kristi, I have been diagnosed with stage-four rectal cancer."Stage Four. Was she dying? Would she be alive when I returned from my travels? Jen was one of my oldest friends; we met in Advanced Composition when we were 15. We gossiped about our teacherís quirky mannerisms, gorged on pancakes at Country Kitchen and jammed to Club Nouveau in her Fiat . "I hate telling you this, especially since you are so far away. I donít mean to upset you."I thought about the lazy summer days we spent swimming in the Mississippi River, eating Taco Johnís burritos and exchanging drive-in theater backseat stories. And who could forget the fateful night we headed back to college in a blizzard and ended up in a snow bank. The tow truck driver told us we would have to spend the night at the truck stop and could take one thing with us. Jen took her typewriter; I took my cosmetic bag. Twenty years later, what would I take now? "I canít even believe that I have to tell you this. I wasnít even sure if I should but, frankly, I need your prayers." I stopped reading. I wanted to hear her voice. Could I skype her? Did I have her number? Where were my headphones? How would she know I cared? I said a silent prayer and focused back on the message."One thing I do know is that life is to be enjoyed so say a prayer for me but then go out and enjoy it. Look who Iím talking to. I didnít have to tell you that!"I logged out, walked across the street to Tiger Trail Adventures and signed up for the ďMahout Experience.Ē The one where you bathed and fed an elephant for two days. The one that cost $150 and would break my $20 a day budget for weeks. The one that I circled and starred in the brochure. The one that was a chance of a lifetime.
Author's Bio:When sheís not traveling the world, Kristi is saving up money to travel the world. She is an Iowa girl who writes a column in Tokyo, runs for The Cure, builds houses with Habitat for Humanity, and spends her summers driving around in her í99 convertible visiting Jen and all her other friends and family she misses when sheís away.