If there’s anything I miss about California, it’s my weekly burrito. Every time I roll into the Chipotle parking lot listening to my mariachi radio, I feel a little bit closer to my Southern California roots—it’s great compensation for not being able to tan or shred waves on a surfboard.
The wonderful thing about ALA Girls Nation is that it’s a supplement for my burrito craving—it’s the missing piece. There’s been so much to take in that the lack of tortilla in my digestive system is no longer apparent.
For starters, I enjoy the company of everyone I’ve met so far. Nobody is so competitive that it inhibits her ability to make friends. Initially, I was worried that we would all be in a tense, heated jalapeno “rat-race” from the get-go, but I’ve met so many spectacular young women who feel the same way as I do. I’m not here to show off; I’m not here to step on others for a title; I’m not here to waste time by pretending to be nice to others for a vote. Ambition is best paired with pure intentions and a willingness to learn. It’s wonderful to me that everyone here has so far seemed more intent on observing and making real friendships. No sour cream between the girls here.
The 4-H Center is magnificent, but the ladies inside are the best part. Armed with a steaming plate of mashed potatoes, pasta, and cheesecake, I was sitting with senators from New Jersey, Minnesota, and Alabama. The entire meal passed by with hilarious discussions about accents, books, and “state culture.” My roommates and I have told each other more than our share of funny and humbling stories. I even learned a new word—“crunchy” (an adjective used to describe hip, yoga-loving, environmentally-friendly, natural people). Our communities discussed what we are most excited for this week—many girls are looking forward to Capitol Hill, the White House, and meeting more new people.
We are friends now, kindred spirits who are no longer separated by distance. Suddenly my familiar and beloved Chipotle burrito has taken a new form in these young women—I feel like I’m at home. A crazy, fantastic, surreal home!
Our week is on. Let’s buckle up, have fun, and guac-and-roll.
~Emily Demsetz, California