“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”
November 2011. I was in overdrive mode. We were pushing to finish stack. It was my chief semester. Meanwhile, up in Boston, unbeknownst to two dudes, the birth of a movement had just begun.
By the end of the month, we were celebrating our hard work. My second year at A&M was turning out to be something spectacular. Building that bonfire for my school, and for the 12, words couldn’t really describe it.
May 2014. There were 17 tribes. Within a span of a few years, word had gotten out. People were catching the November Project bug. Down in Texas, I was none the wiser. I had just graduated. I was looking on to a new chapter of my life. I had met people from up north, but no word of the tribe had met my ears. Back to Houston I went…I even spent a hot minute in PA that summer, however, there was no evidence of what was happening.
August 3, 2015. I found myself in Dallas. (If you already know the story, you get to read it again). I had joined the company kickball team as I knew a total of 6 souls in the greater DFW outside of work. If you’re familiar with how spread out everything is, you’ll understand that Forney, Grapevine, and Denton weren’t exactly regular places to visit on a Tuesday night. So while I was playing kickball one evening, two of the girls on the team (the only ones not from work) were talking about this fitness bootcamp-ish thing they were attending. As the weeks went on, each game they kept pestering me about it. Finally I committed, “Okay. I’ll go. 6:15 is freaking early. I like free, so whatever.”
October 21, 2015. “Official Pledge Week 9”
It was my first workout with the tribe. We played Rock, Paper, Scissors. The people who got me to go weren’t even there! But it was a blast, and I decided to go back.
By then NP was up to 25 or so tribes. A book was being written about it. Yet I still knew so little. As time went on, I slowly learned the jargon. I learned a little bit more about the movement. I kept #justshowingup. We were growing too. We kept pledging.
Spring 2016. Manny had posted about Summit 4.0 It was in Canada that summer. As much as we wanted to go represent Dallas, and Texas, on a bigger scale, it just wasn’t meant to be. NP was getting closer to 30 tribes. They were living it up while we were struggling to keep our heads afloat.
As most tribes struggle in the winter to keep their numbers up, down here it’s the opposite. As it got hotter, and more humid, we found ourselves down. I think we were averaging around 10? While during the cold months we were up to 30ish. The setback wasn’t going to stop us. #noexcuses
December 2016. I ran my first marathon. We had a great turnout for our cheer station. Still pledging. NP was just under 30 tribes. #thepushfor30
We held our chins high. We had really picked up some momentum. A group of us put our heads together. We planned out goals. For ourselves. For the tribe. We had been doing this for long, so something wasn’t sitting right with the leaders of NP. It was time to readjust.
February 2017. We had our first 6k. We finally hit 50! The tribe was finally growing strong and fast. NP was up to 35 tribes. Dallas still wasn’t one of them. No worries, we had big plans. NP Summit 5.0 was in the planning stages. We were gonna show up in full force. Official or not. Texas was gonna make some noise.
April 19, 2017. It happened. The hype was real. The tribe
was is strong. I was getting super pumped for Summit. All of those weeks of pledging finally paid off. We used our success as a catalyst to help our friends in Austin. (Though they didn’t really need it). A few weeks later the Texas Two Step was more than just a dance. The greatest state now had two tribes. (Houston, we’re working on ya.)
June 8, 2017. 7 of us were all on the same flight. There was a delay. “Welp, more time to pregame!” As we drank and ate and decided on a theme for the weekend (#whatintarnation) we were stoked for the next few days.
June 9, 2017. It’s 5 A.M. We show up to the stadium early, (side note to the wise – DO NOT EVER RENT AN ELECTRIC CAR). Walking through the entrance, I turn and look up. There were a handful of people at the top. Shit was about to go down. As more people enter the stadium, my anxiety kicks in, simultaneously, my adrenaline is prepping for the stairs. A LOT was happening. I see some friends from other tribes who had made their way through Texas at some point during the last few years. We hug. Pam the Nomad introduces me to 98 people, I think.
The bounce. There are literally no words to describe that bounce. It was unreal. It was like one of those out of body experiences. It WAS real. It WAS happening. And I was overcome with a cornucopia of emotions.
I had run the stairs at SMU previously. Had it been a regular thing for the past year I still don’t think I would have been qualified to run Harvard. At 5’3 on a good day, I was at a disadvantage from the get go. (To those shorter than me and still killing it, I commend you!) “Slow and steady,” I thought to myself as I took that first step.
“Whatever you do, don’t stop.” I didn’t, until I couldn’t. As I passed the first station I saw, I told myself that I would stop and get some at the halfway point. Eventually I look up and realize I’m now a little further than that. So I definitely stop to get a drink. I’m waiting in line for a good while. I chug my drink, wait for an opening, and start heading back down. Then time is called. A bit disappointed I couldn’t go further, I knew my legs would be thanking me the next morning at the race. (Next time I visit the Mothership, a full tour is in order.)
I’m just in awe at how many people were there. So many future friends were roaming around. It was an experience to be had, and I’m thankful for the chance to be there.
With the day still ahead of us, the Dallas tribe takes on Boston. We follow some of the Freedom Trail. I take it all in and enjoy my time. Soon enough we’re at Harpoon meeting a number of other tribes. We talk and exchange stories over some drinks and food. It’s a good time, and it only foreshadows the friendliness to come.
June 10, 2017. We make our way to the Boston Common. Load up the bus and we’re on our way. (It shall be known as the Party Bus.) The music pumps us up. The drive was beautiful. The tribe was excited. I was nervous-excited.
Lined up at the start, the nerves were kicking in, and I didn’t know what to expect…Brutal. That’s the epitome of that first half. Dallas didn’t have hills to prepare me for that. I’d never been rock climbing outside, so I definitely wasn’t prepared for that either. And I have never been bouldering. I winged it. The camaraderie was real as some ladies pushed me.
I get to the top and see a sea of faces. Some familiar. I drink some electrolytes and devour a banana. I take a deep breath and carry onward. I go back down to more people cheering me on and giving me high-fives. I saw no faces, just hands. I heard it all. The vibe was alive and well, the spirit of NP was in full force. And then there was unfortunate event.
I roll my ankle and collapse. I hear a man and woman come up behind me and ask if I’m okay. I tell them what happened.
They offer if I want to go back to the top. Someone else might have said yes. I needed to finish. For my team. For my tribe. For my self.
This wonderful person whom I had never met before became my guide. He was patient. He helped me every bit of the way. At that point I realized I had only felt the love being shared with me once before, from the Aggie family. (Coincidentally, both November Project and Texas A&M both use the term #notacult). As we get closer to the end, he offers to run it in, and so we did. (Thank you, Hans!)
Later that evening we go to the best party of the year. The Dallas tribe welcomes all into our dance circle. We make more friends from around the world. Then we end the night at the place where it all began. Pour House. I’ve read it’s a bit of dive-bar. That night it just felt like I was back at Northgate with my friends.
This weekend was one for the books. I’m incredibly blessed to have been a part of this. I never thought I would ever find a group of people such as those Ags; this is pretty dang close. It’s kind of hard to compare the two, as they are completely different. Yet at the same time, they’re a bit of the same. I can’t really explain it. I’m sure if you’re not part of either group, you can’t really understand it. But if you #justshowup, you’ll begin to get a pretty good idea.