I've always wanted to travel alone, and this past weekend I did just that. In the spur of the moment with a long weekend looming ahead and plans that had unraveled due to recent unfortunate social incidents, I decided to travel solo to a place I've wanted to see and had never been. I always find myself waiting for travel- waiting for the right time, waiting for the perfect person to enjoy it with, waiting to have tons of money so I don't feel guilty. But the problem with eternal waiting is that eventually time will run out. Money may never come. The perfect companion may never come. So I gave a mental "screw that" and booked a spontaneous trip.
In the process I got an inside look at what it means to be The Solo Female Traveler. People think you're nuts. Worried phone calls from family members, thinking collectively I may have reached the end of my wits. Meeting people on foreign public transportation who ask, "Surely you are meeting someone here?" When I shook my head no, their faces froze in whatever expression they had so not to reveal how they really feel (sad for me, scared for me, amazed I can self-entertain for extended periods of time). I laughed it off, shrugged my shoulders, and simply replied, "Why not?"
But The Solo Female Traveler shifted me into a whole new character. Suddenly I was carefree, fun, adventurous. I commonly possess these traits- but to the outside world, they dominated. I felt more open, free. I actually initiated conversations with strangers (may or may not have been due to my getting drunk on the plane with an Irish professional soccer coach). I think I might have even been more attractive, more alluring. People complimented me. I was hopeful. I felt awesome. I walked around the city with nobody to cajole out of bed early in the morning, nobody complaining about walking steep hills, nobody bored when I took 10 minutes to get the perfect picture, and nobody telling me when I had to eat (well, this got me in trouble later, as I got quite intoxicated after only a piece of sourdough to nourish my 8 hour walk). It was splendid! Of course there were times it would have been nice to be with someone special. My heart felt a slight ache. Sharing the beauty of a beautiful city. Discovering a cool restaurant together. Sharing the swanky hotel room. But I have to say- it was still a perfect runaway. An experience I only know about, my secret to keep close to me.
Arriving home was a bit tougher. As I walked off the plane I got hit with reality. Gloom passed over me, wanting to leap back into the fun adventurous hopeful life. I was reminded of the reasons I felt such a need to get away. But maybe pretending is the best way to go about it? My trip assured me I am not destined to face a reality that sucks. I just need to figure out what I can afford to runaway from.