Monday, July 6, 2009

When A Girl Travels Alone

What nobody ever tells you, as parents and authorities alike ingrain from early on the behavior is bad: Running away is sometimes really good. Sometimes, it's the best option possible.

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.


DaniColoredGlasses said...

I have been writing an erasing comments to/for you ever since your break up. Everything I want to say seems trite and I erase it, but I cliche or not I've decided to go ahead and leave some comments.

1. The aching that comes along with a breakup will not magically go away. Trust me, I know. Trying to undo the life that you 2 created with each other sucks....and I wish less people had lied to me about my ability to "get over it." I think my breakup would have been less of a shock.

2. The way that I got through it (not over it, but through it) was keeping busy and avoiding face-time with the ex. I needed to work things out with myself first. Traveling was a great idea. Taking stock of what makes you f-in amazing will ultimately help you to move on.

3. Fight or Flight....friends, colleagues, fellow-bloggers making a comment, etc. cannot tell you what is best for you. They try their best and most are well-intentioned, but ultimately you are the only person who can advise you about your breakup and life thereafter. Everyone hurts and heals differently. Just be honest with yourself on how you want this story to end. Then work your way backwards. Ie. If you want to be with an amazing man that won't get caught up with an unsavory skank then decide that is what you want for yourself and figure out life from that point back to where you are standing now.

Thanks for being so honest in your posts....A year ago I was sobbing over my own break up and a year later I'm realizing its the best thing that ever happened to me. Yes, I still feel 'pangs' of emotions. But the 'pangs' are a hell of a lot better than the disillusionment I held abt my ex and our relationship.

Keep writing...your readers are with you.

Anonymous said...

So true. Thank you for all your various posts over the last year. I have enjoyed everyone of them... though I am very sorry the most recent events have happened.