A couple of other things that have crossed my mind is this weird headspace I’m in about being alone. For most of my life, I’ve always thought I had to live for others. Like my time was never mine. Like that was supposed to be a good thing. In one of my best relationships there was even that thought of having to consider others. I know that sounds bad, but hear me out.
We had planned a trip to the UK in May 2020. As everyone knows, those plans got derailed. But in the planning, pre-pandemic, I found myself planning the trip around her. What things I could show her. Distances we could go from train stations to our rental. All that kind of thing. I have to admit, it was kinda a drag having so much planning on my shoulders. Not just with romantic relationships, but I’ve thought about traveling with a bunch of friends too, and really the amount of cat-herding involved with that would irritate the hell out of me.
The last time I went someplace with family, I found myself a few days in just wanting no responsibilities. If even just for a couple of hours. It was exhausting entertaining pre-teens and being the mediator with grandparents. Here I was alone in the middle while everyone else was on vacation. Mr. Responsible. I had to make sure the dog was going out enough, and I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Other than texting someone who was a thousand miles away.
One night I excused myself and walked the boardwalk into Seaside. It was March, so the place was nearly abandoned. I found myself at a sportsbar watching basketball–which I am not really into–drinking a beer by myself. As the servers started stacking chairs up for the night, I was alone, but I felt lighter. Everything I was doing at that moment was just for me, even though my capacity was limited.
I think that is how I could get hooked on solo travel. Sure, it’s a little overwhelming, but it can be really nice to just have a moment to yourself. Sitting alone at a restaurant can be freeing. You can have conversations with strangers. You can take your time. You don’t have to worry about a significant other getting jealous, or a kid getting bored, or little missions like finding the perfect sourvenir, or t-shirts to bring back home. I really hate souvenirs. Things I bring home need to have some sort of meaning other than just being stuff on a shelf you dust occasionally. It’s even worse when the stuff you buy was made in China and you weren’t in China to get it.
I like being able to do what I want, and if I don’t want to do it anymore, I can just leave and do something else. I don’t have to wear that mask.
You know the one. The “We are having just the greatest time! HAHAHA!” mask. You don’t have to put on a show for anyone. You can have resting bitch face if you want. You can be pensive. You can feel lonely if you want. Or you can feel lighter than the breath from a dove. Or you can smile for just you.
When our plans to go to the UK dissolved (and before our relationship followed) she suggested we could go to Disney World instead. Maybe that was a red flag. I know a lot of people love Disney, but if it’s standing in line for Pirates of the Carribean vs. taking a train across Europe and eating all the cheese and drinking all the wine…yeah.
It probably wasn’t going to work out, was it?
I guess if you are going to travel with other people, make sure your vibe matches theirs. I’ve yet to experience that. But the people who have gotten to know me already know that if I want to do something else, I’ll just leave. Since my earlier years of going places with other people, I have had the nasty habit of just being along for the ride. I didn’t have to challenge my sense of direction. I just watched everything go past and got a lot less out of it than I probably would have if I had to pay attention. Later, my decisions were always second-guessed anyway. Whatever I wanted to do was stupid or “we’ll do that next time.” Which we never did, or if we did, it was often considered a waste of time.
My favorite itenary is to have no plan other than a start time and a time to get back. Though I do have a list of things to see that I check off, I try not to let the schedule be dictated by it. Usually when you deal with timetables, you have to at least have that. I like being spontaneous, but I also like having a nice hot bath or shower to get back to at the end of the day. I’ve often heard that women think that a man who can plan something out is attractive. I’m no longer interested in impressing someone based on my ability to plan shit for them. Here’s my itenary: Keep up.
There will also be naps.
And trying new shit. Doing something every day that scares you.
But there is a drawback to that. Sometimes planning helps you connect the dots for some really cool stuff. Like I missed a Shakespearean play at the Globe when I was in London because I happened to be there the day nothing was playing. Also, traveling alone means you are paying the full bill. So, maybe a little bit of research is okay so you don’t miss out on cool stuff as it happens. Just don’t let it rule you. Or maybe I’m just full of shit.