This past Saturday, I was on the 6am flight out of LAX on my way to Florida. It was an early morning wake up call that, in many ways, reminded me of the days I would trudge to the school bus. Slowly waking myself up with the music from my walkman headset and the songs of John Legend and Alicia Keys. Heading straight to the 7:05am barre spot for ballet class at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts. Time really flew by...
I arrived to Tampa International Airport in the late afternoon, and made my way to South St. Petersburg where, in only a few short hours, I would be receiving the honorary Key to the City. After being away for what seemed like a long time, there was something comforting about being back. The city looked all shiny, new, and grown up. I'd been traveling and performing all over the world, but a piece of my heart never left. I saw my old teachers, directors, and friends. As I made my way through the Mahaffey Theater, I met many new faces that would say hello and "we've heard so many incredible things about you!", and it made me feel really special.
If I had to put my feelings from that night into one word, it would have to be 'grateful'. Grateful for the support and encouragement that has been keeping me moving forward over the years. Grateful for the acknowledgment of my hard work and persistence I've put into following my dreams and aspirations. Grateful for my family, both near and far, that continue to be present and show their unconditional love in my life. And above all, grateful for the ability to do something that fulfills me and constantly pushes me to reach further, and grow.
Receiving these keys may not unlock any physical doors here in St. Pete, but it has already unlocked a part of me that has so much to give, and I've made it my mission to be back very soon!