Friday, August 23, 2013


I have been reflecting on my recent road trip.  To begin with, it was quite scary to take such a long trip, one that included driving, camping, hiking, kayaking, dining, and all such things by myself.  But what was scary was not fear of physical harm.  That I didn't worry about.  It was being alone all those days in the car and nights by the fire without company.  Would I drive myself mad?  Would I be boring to myself? Would I regret that I didn't have someone to share the trip with?  I believe these questions poked at me long before the trip.  They didn't really surface clearly but instead hovered below my awareness and made it easy to find (legitimate) reasons for postponing the departure date by a few days, then for 2 weeks.

To my relief, once on the road I was just fine.  Living alone (except for various beasties), I'm accustomed to spending lots of time by myself and I like my own company. I had recorded lots of books on my iPod and enjoyed the drive once that dreadful road noise was gone.   I am a friendly person who likes talking with strangers and I figured there would be plenty of opportunities to meet folks along the way.  Fellow travelers and all that.  Memories of camping as a child are full of walks through the campgrounds and meeting other campers (while telling the boys that I was 16 years old instead of the 13 I really was.)   Eating out alone on business trips never bothered me and in New Orleans no one worries about whether the number of diners is one or a dozen.  It's all good as they say. (I hate that saying.)

So here I am, la la la,  heading to Vacationland.  Remember, Maine in July and especially August, is like a beautiful, nature-filled Disneyland with lobsters. Locals patiently endure the tourists, who after all are responsible for much of their incomes, while anticipating October and emptier roads.  Everywhere, vacationers are couples or families.  No apparent fellow solo travelers.   If they were there, it wasn't where I was.  Not a problem.  Did I mention that I meet people easily?

To my surprise,  the reaction I perceived to being solo was not what I expected.  My daughter thinks I am making this up; I'm sure I am not.  While the locals treated me kindly, and reacted to my traveling all that way by myself in the manner I anticipated ("You did what!!!  Oh my God you are so brave!  Or crazy! I could never do that by myself!"), the other tourists gave me questioning or pitying looks.  Even eyed me suspiciously.  "Why is she here alone?  What's wrong with her?"  A kindly older couple invited me to dine with them one evening, and when we were seated, disclosed that they felt sorry for me.  I was stunned.  I told them that while indeed I do have friends and family, and love to travel in a pack, this summer no one else was available and either I did it alone or didn't do it at all.  Maybe I should have stayed home.  Not.

Anyway, there is a point to this, I think.  Since returning home, I feel more self confident.  I have done something that was hard.  That I feared.  I think it's making me stronger but in a good way.  Not the way that when horrible stuff happens to you they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  I hate that kind of strong.  No, stronger as in I'd even like to do something I fear again.  Not like bungy jumping, no bleeping way, but something I believe would be fun or good but that I am hesitant to do.  That kind of strong.  I've crossed a bridge or two.  And the other side is a nice place to be.

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