The e-mail came unsolicited. Why?
"Because I wish I would have read a story like this when I was a young kid in Fort Bragg," Tina Tubbs said.
Because if she did, the unknown for her back in 1996 wouldn't have felt so much like taking a raft onto a raging sea.
Tubbs had just graduated from Fort Bragg High School. She didn't know what she wanted to do with her life, but she was curious. What's life like around the bend, away from a small town? What was out there, away from everything she knew, everyone she loved? The unknown is never comfortable. Exciting? Sure. An adrenaline push? Oh yeah. But comfortable? Never.
"Do what makes you happy," Grace, her mom, told her. Tubbs always appreciated the freedom her mother gave her, but she knew Grace and the 11 other members of her extended family in Fort Bragg were crossing their fingers behind their backs. They were Fort Bragg born and bred. No one had graduated from college but that was OK. They wore Fort Bragg like a badge and were proud to do it.
Tara, Tina's sister and only sibling, would go on to run a beauty salon in town. Curt, her dad, was a millworker at Georgia Pacific, now a manager at Safeway and a volunteer fireman. Grace works for county adult services as a social worker assistant. Yes, her people are Fort Bragg all the way.
"I don't know where it (curiosity) came from, probably from my inner self," Tubbs said.
Oh, that Tubbs back then could have seen her future. What a view she could have given the folks, what comfort it would have provided.
Last week Tubbs was in Rome as the athletic trainer for the USA men's and women's beach volleyball teams. Saturday she was scheduled to leave for Warsaw, Poland, to perform the same duties.
Tubbs has two NCAA championship rings, one from the University of Tennessee in 2005 when she was the athletic trainer for the Vols' women's track team, one from UCLA in 2012 when she was the athletic trainer for the Bruins' men's and women's volleyball teams.