What It Was Like To Run With The Bulls

What It Was Like To Run With The Bulls

It’s 8 a.m. in Spain and I am attempting to fight off an ongoing hangover and a sleepless night.
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Never in my life have I experienced anything like this. I could never have pictured this a few years ago. If someone were to tell me “Chris, you know what you will be doing at 22? You’ll be running for your life” I’d laugh. There is just no other response I could have made. But here I am, It’s 8 a.m. in Spain and I am attempting to fight off an ongoing hangover and exhausted from a night of zero sleep.

I am in a sea of red and white. There is barely enough room for me to breath let alone collect my thoughts. Having just been able to squeeze through a wooden fence and maneuver through a crowd of people I look to my left and right. I see a multitude of emotions. Excitement. Fear. Adrenaline. Exhaustion. Anxiety. All of which I am feeling right now. A gunshot goes off. Everyone is still.

I can’t believe I am doing this. What is wrong with me? Who in their right mind willfully signs up to run from bulls. It’s absolutely ludicrous. It actually makes me laugh that people say “running with the bulls” as if it is just a brisk jog with a dozen 2,400-pound animals. As if these beasts aren’t able to kill you with a single thrust of their horns.

A second gunshot is fired. Finally, I can breathe. There is a breeze that slips through the gaps in people as everyone takes off in a slow paced jog. Even if you wanted to sprint, you wouldn’t be able to. There are just too many people. I make the first turn and then it finally opens up. Every few moments I turn around to see where these monsters are but I am afraid that if I look too long I’ll trip and that’ll be the end of me.

I almost wish I wasn’t told this before I ran, but no use in crying over spilled milk now. Every year people die. Last year tied the record for 10 deaths. But this isn’t the full story. They only count those who die during the run as deaths. Anyone who bleeds out in the hospital or from complications doesn’t count. I am not sure how true this is, but it’s enough to send a chill down my spine.

My heart is beating a million miles per hour. I am not sure how far I have ran but I know it must be over soon. I have yet to see a bull. How can I say I ran with the bulls if I have not seen one? I begin to slow down. I went from a sprint to a jog. Everything around me is blurred. All I hear are screams of the crowd. All I see is a flash of skin, red, and white. I continue to jog thinking to myself is it really worth it. I still ran with the bulls whether I see a bull or not. Or did I?

I ran cross country and track from 7th to 11th grade. That is 4 years of running for the sake of running. I tell myself that all the of practice lead me to this moment. But then I realize how silly that is. This is only a half mile run. 826 meters. That is it. That means last year every 264 feet someone died.

I come to a near dead stop. I look around. I can’t believe that I am doing this. I decide that I will not finish this race without seeing a bull. My speed is hardly power walking and the crowd flows around me like I am just a misplaced rock in a stream. I turn my head around every few seconds torn between wanting to see horns and not. My attention turns to the crowd as their roar crescendos. As I look back to the street I realize that the sea of red and white is moving faster. I know that the next time I turn around, it may be my last.

How did this event even start? Who in the village decided it would be a good idea to let bulls roam free? Was he just the local goon who decided this would be the day he watched his city burn? How did he feel when the city of Pamplona decided to turn this into week long holiday? I don’t think that this could have turned any more ironic even if an author wrote it. Sometimes you are not able to put the pieces together, and this is one of them.

I turn my head and I see fear. I don’t feel it, but I can see it. It’s an emotion that when you see it on another's faced it just travels down your spine. Then I see it. The porcelain color of a horn. It begins to grow as more appear around the corner. Before I know it I can hear the stomping of its feet. I can see their black beady eyes. It feels like a weight was just dropped in my stomach. I face forward as my body is turned into overdrive. I every muscle fiber working together like a symphony. All I can see is a pin-size hole in front of me. All I can see is the next few feet in front of me. I maneuver through the crowd as I make out in the distance the stadium that is the finish line. I am less than 30 feet from it. I can feel my body cheering for joy as the unbelievable happens. The man in turns his head around. I am about to witness what I fear most. I see the white of his eyes as he loses his footing. Less than 5 feet in front of me a man is plummeting to the ground. There is nothing I can do but hurdle over him. My front leg lifts off the ground clearing him with no issue. As I bring my second foot forward I feel a pull. I see his hand grasped around my ankle in a desperate maneuver to pull himself up. This is what Darwin meant by survival of the fittest.

They say before you die your life will flash before you. I am not sure how true that is but I can tell you that the only thing I thought of was my night before. How I drank sangria out of a jug from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. I thought of how different this could have been if I had gone to sleep rather than pull an all-nighter. Maybe I shouldn’t have had an energy drink as a substitute. Maybe, just maybe, I should have stayed home.

My second leg eventually reaches the ground. My body is thrown off balance. I stumbled forward at a sprinter's speed. I can hear 2,400-pound hooves behind me. This is it. This is the end of me.

I regain my balance. I continue forward. I pass through the stadium doors and enter a sand filled area. The seats are overflowing with people to the point where they are spilling over the walls. I pull right to run along the perimeter. All I can hear is the roar of the crowd. The cheers of the crowd. My vision slowly comes back. I can feel the adrenaline forcing my heart to beat through my chest. The sky becomes a color of blue I have never seen before. Everything I look at becomes alive. I am alive. I survived.

Cover Image Credit: The Kona Gallery

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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5 Best Quotes By Kate Chopin

"The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude."

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Rising to prominence during the Progressive Era—a time in America where women were often discouraged to read and write, or disengage with literature of any form due to the asinine, yet widely accepted sentiment that words on a page would drive the female conscience insane -- Kate Chopin is widely hailed by historians and scholars as one of the most iconic forerunners of the feminist movement that came to the dominate the early 20th century through her short stories and novels that have been on the receiving end of timeless praise.

Although she did not receive any accolades for her works, nor as much recognition in comparison to better known female authors during her time such as Edith Wharton -- who became the first female novelist to win The Pulitzer Prize -- Kate Chopin's legacy endured to serve as a rallying cry, and inspiration for several female contemporaries who to, have now ascended to their rightful places among the highest echelons of American Literature. Names that include Zelda Fitzgerald (wife to famed novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald), Gertrude Stein, and Willa Cather to name just a few.

Here are five of the best lines delivered through the words of one alone, which came to be the words of many:

1. "She wanted something to happen - something, anything: she did not know what."

We all dream of being something, of going somewhere. But often it lies beyond the reach of words, as an imagination uncapsulated by a camera or a picture frame. As a place we have not been, cannot go, and will never be.

2. "Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusion's all one's life."

To keep it real is to keep it painful. But through all the falls, the bruises, the scrapes, and the tears, there may linger at the end if for a moment, only for a moment, a painlessness many have conned themselves into believing it will last forever.

3. "The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamouring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude."

The sea, the water which covers crevices, valleys, and deeps yet unseen and unperceived is a place of much wonder and much fear that roars beneath the crash of its waves against one another, and the rocks that await upon the shore. But through the beat of its torrential drum, it remains a place for the solemn, and the alone. A place for those to wonder as they wander alone in their solemnity.

4. "She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world."

To grow up is to shed the cocoon woven from expectations others expect of us to confine us, and to emerge, and ascend towards expectations we have set for ourselves.

"... but whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong to another than herself."

As we embark on the travail that is life, there may come times where many will tell us we belong to something, or nothing. But as such despairing words calmer against our eardrums, seaking to breakthrough to invade, to infest our psyche, we will always belong to ourselves.

Forever a voice of empowerment as she was then, Kate Chopin reminds us -- through her novels and short stories that have been but a glimpse of her enduring resilience and courage -- that regardless of what or who we are, and where we come from and where we seek to go, we always belong somewhere.

A place that lies beyond many seas of many seductive whispers and whispers. A place where awaits to embrace us -- one none other than ourselves. Enveloping us in our arms like currents which surround us as we descend, and then arise in place where we may wander in solitude.

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