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My Journey To Orlando
Submitted by Justin Watry on 07/13/2018 at 08:59 PM


It was back in April 2011.

An ordinary day for yours truly. I was surfing the internet late at night. Duffing around after a lazy day of doing nothing when suddenly my phone buzzed. It was pretty late, close to midnight, and I was ready to head to bed, so the message caught me off guard. To my surprise, the message was from an old friend from high school. A girl I had not seen or talked to in years. The last time we hung out was at a party a few years after graduation.

I had zero relationship with her or even knew what was going on in her life. Yet, there was a late night message saying "What's up? This is Megan." Now note: I am NOT using her real name. Let's just go with Megan. Of course, I was immediately excited, anxious, and tired. Still, I knew I was going to respond and see what was up. We were just friends. Thus, I knew it was nothing beyond that, but as they say, curiosity gets the best of you sometimes.

I replied saying I was heading to bed soon but was just duffing around online. She instantly sent "Where are you? Still in town? Let's meet up."

At this point in time, I knew this was not going to be a quiet evening and simply sleep. Whether I replied or ignored the message, my mind was going to be racing anyways. No way around this one. I said I did still live in town but not at the address she had assumed. Right away, I half-regretted the decision to investigate but knew that if she was relegated to messaging me at midnight on a random day, SOMETHING must be going on.

Megan had been driving around town, knew nobody nearby, and had to talk to somebody. I was the only person she suspected was close. Obviously, she was right. I agreed to meet her at the end of my driveway in a couple of minutes, despite it now being 1 or 2am and a rainy/messy storm being on the way on this spring Wisconsin night.

I saw her car lights pull up and with a deep sigh, I ran out in the rain to her car, said hello, made small talk, and off we went...

...to where? WHY?!?!

No clue. 

Whether it was just simple curiosity, boredom or the small buzz I had earlier from drinking alcohol, I was in. No going back now. We proceeded to drive around for a few minutes before coming to a stop at an empty parking lot. Still, I was none the wiser as to what exactly was going on or why I was there with Megan - somebody I had barely known or talked to in years. Much less at 2 am.

We parked and sat...

...and sat...and sat some more.

Eventually, I figured I had to break the ice.

"Um, what's going on?"

Almost immediately after those words, Megan went off on her boyfriend. Just WENT OFF. How abusive he was. How terrible he was. How much it sucked living with him. How they fight all the time. How miserable life is. How the location is bad for her. How she had finally had enough and was moving on. Enough was enough! Megan had reached her limit a few hours prior and just started driving around in circles. To where? She didn't know. Just to get away from her man and start over. We were both in our early 20's, so I understood that. With so much life to live, there is no reason to get 'stuck' at such a young age and not change anything when need be.

For close to two hours, I listened. Didn't say much. Nor was I ever actually asked for my opinion. I just sat there and listened. She cussed, cursed, swore and used some of the most vile language you will ever hear. For such a calm girl I knew from high school, it was quite the scene. It was only later that I found out she had also been drinking a bit before. Not exactly the safest car ride in hindsight.

By this point, it was nearing 4am, and she was finally done ranting. Megan looked at me, and I will never forget it, she said: "What should I do? What do you think of this whole mess?"

I was faced with a dilemma here. Do I be the 'good friend' and tell her everything will be okay or be brutally honest like a jerk? I hardly knew Megan at all, so I went full board and hit her hard with some truth. With a deep sigh, I told her exactly what was going to happen next.

"You're going to get back together with him."

I said it with a sense of defeat but honesty. I straight up told her she was going to reconcile, and nothing would change.

She was not happy with that sentence.

"Didn't you just hear me for the past two hours? I will NEVER get back together with him! Never ever! I've had enough of his attitude, lifestyles, abuse, yelling, and I am DONE! Done. Done. DONE."

I had heard it. Trust me, I was two feet away. I heard it all loud and clear. Except it wasn't what she did say that got to me - it was what she did NOT say. During this entire two hour rant, she never once mentioned anything about fixing the problem or making a plan to move forward. Nothing. It was all about how she hated a man so much and for so many years that she was...going to do nothing about it.

As guilty as I felt about angering her, I thought it was the right thing to do. Not BS her or beat around the bush. She dropped me off a few minutes later, thanked me for letting her vent and reassured me that the two would absolutely NOT be getting back together. I told her I would check up on her in a few days to see if she needed help moving or anything else as she didn't know anyone from the area.

I said goodbye, and that was it.

Sure enough, Friday came, and I messaged her if she had help packing/moving stuff for the weekend. She hit me with a 'stunning' piece of news.

"Oh, I'm not moving. Everything is fine. Thanks."

Of course.

Deep down, I knew that was the response coming. I knew it. Heck, I told her straight to her face days earlier exactly what was going to happen. I asked her about the other night, all the complaints, the years of abuse, and why in the world it still hasn't set in that maybe the relationship shouldn't continue? Her reply:

"I can't."

Can't leave him. Can't start over. Can't be alone again. Can't find a new place. Can't.

For whatever reason, this woman in her young 20's had made up her mind. She gave up.

I never spoke to her again.

"Can't."

That was in 2011.

A few years later, a buddy of mine told me the two were always at parties arguing, fighting, yelling, and seemed to be miserable. Then happy! Then miserable. Then happy! Then miserable. The two ended up getting married and are now living UNhappily ever after. Same issues, same problems, same BS. Same excuses.

When my buddy asked her (again) after months of marriage and being even more miserable than ever why not break it off and move on? Her reply:

"I can't."

Now at this point, I am sure all of you are asking one simple question:

"Great story, but what the heck does this have to do with Orlando?"

Good question.

During my entire professional wrestling fandom, I always wanted to go to a WrestleMania. It is the biggest event of the year for those who know the business. Whether it was watching a McMahon in every corner at WrestleMania 2000, seeing the classic TLC II match in front of 67,000 fans in Texas, The Rock and Hulk Hogan locking horns in Canada, or the fun show in Seattle back in 2003. I knew that was always the brass ring that was out of reach.

WrestleMania was never going to come to Wisconsin. It was set for New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Orlando, and countless other big cities. Some near me but always appeared to be out of reach.

Each year, it would be a new reason (excuse) for not going. I don't have money. I don't have off work. I have school. Nobody else would go with me (when I was younger). The words "I can't" were basically spelled out as "I won't."

I can't go to Mania...I won't go to Mania.

Each year passed, and each year I attended other WWE shows. Some Raw, Smackdown, pay-per-views, live events - all were fine and enjoyable, but that was never the dream. The bucket list item on every wrestling fan's mind every second of every day was clear. It was WrestleMania or bust.

Finally, I was tired of making excuses and being Megan from 2012 repeatedly saying "I can't."

In late 2015, I made my proclamation in an infamous year end column.

I was adamant: I was going to WrestleMania in either 2016 or 2017. I was doing it.

The idea was simple. Either I would head to Texas for WrestleMania 32 and be a part of the biggest wrestling crowd ever at AT&T Stadium or wait for the following year where the event was rumored to take place in nearby Minneapolis, Minnesota. Not a ton of travel for me, so it worked. I passed up the 2016 trip with the assumption Mania would be in Minnesota the following year.

Well, WM33 was announced for Orlando. Not Minnesota.

Right when that happened, I had two choices. Either I would make up another excuse to not go and wait ANOTHER year or just suck it up and attend Wrestle FREAKIN' Mania!

In mid-2016, the wheels were in motion. I was going to Mania and traveling to Orlando to do so. If that meant going on an airplane for the first time ever and using paid vacation at work for the first time ever, so be it! I was going to attend the biggest wrestling event of the year no matter what.

Everything was set, and it was only fitting that my WM33 tickets arrived in the mail the day after I had attended WWE Fastlane in Milwaukee. Quite ironic in many ways. The flights were booked, the hotel was booked, the tickets were in my hand, and it was all systems go.

While it may seem odd to many of you, I thought a lot about Megan during the month of March. While getting everything planned for my Orlando trip, I often went back to the night she messaged me and told why she CAN'T do something. Can't. I often believed a lot of that BS and fell into the same trap as she had years earlier. However, this was me. This was 2017...and this was WrestleMania.

I got my backside on that plane, checked into the hotel, and last Sunday night, I made the walk to Camping World Stadium. It was finally happening, and I was still kind of in a daze. I knew this was THE moment many had dreamed about forever, but it never felt real. I walked into the stadium, stood in awe, took a few pictures, and then I walked into the 'bowl' of the stadium and got my first look at everything.

Wow.

The stage. The seating. The ring. The big screen. The fans. The Mania of it all.

I attend Green Bay Packers game every single season, occasional Milwaukee Brewers games, Milwaukee Bucks games, and all types of sporting events. Whether you consider professional wrestling a legitimate sport or not is your choice. Let me just say it was a sight to see, for a diehard fan like myself or just a guy there looking to spend a Sunday night at the matches.

I had made it. After years of saying I can't, I won't, I couldn't, I shouldn't, I was there. After years of saying I can't, I did it. 

That is my journey to Orlando. A little long winded and off topic, but it is how this no name kid from Wisconsin set a goal for himself and attained it. Without sounding too arrogant or misunderstanding, to this day, I wonder what Megan is up to. Maybe she is finally happy with her marriage? Maybe she isn't? I have no idea. In no way is my situation similar nor could I ever put myself in her shoes or even begin to understand what her life is like; I certainly wish her nothing but the best. I just know that saying "I can't" is just another way of saying "I won't." 

Well, not me. 

I had turned "I can't" into "I did." 

You can too.




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