Recently, I traveled to San Francisco for work to attend a (fantastic) writing workshop. And I was reminded of something: I love to travel by myself.
I kept my hotel room, which overlooked the bay, ridiculously tidy just because I could. When I needed to be somewhere I could get ready leisurely but arrive in plenty of time. At home I'm so accustomed to the long list of tasks that must be negotiated and completed before we leave. To suddenly only worry about myself felt laughably simple.
I also find being in an unfamiliar place slightly disorienting in a pleasing way. How often in my everyday life do I not know where I am? Rarely. And when it happens I'm frustrated. But in a new city, on my own and with time to spare, not knowing quite where I am becomes an adventure. One adventure involved my Lyft driver taking me to his family's 60-year old pizza restaurant near Golden Gate Park, buying me a pizza, and then dropping me off at a great picnic spot!
At home in Arizona our streets are laid out in grids and I always know which way is north. In a new city I think I know which way north is ... and then realize I've gone the wrong way and my understanding of the world shifts. How novel to be in an alert learning mode instead of in autopilot.
And then there's the energy of being in a new place, especially in a vibrant city like San Francisco. Public transit fascinates me. The architecture fascinates me. Amazing food abounds! I love wondering where all these people work and also: how the heck are they affording to live in this city??
My extroverted-introvert nature shines when I travel alone. I take a book wherever I go and am just as comfortable eating by myself in the company of a book as I am meeting up with a friend. I have warm memories of eating dinner at a restaurant by myself during a work trip years ago in Colorado Springs and reading State of Wonder. What luxury!
On my westbound flight I started The Signature of All Things, ate a package of Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and had a cup of coffee. On the way home I nearly finished the book and enjoyed another package of chocolate treats.
When I travel, whether alone or not, I find myself immersed in the present. I miss Chris and I miss the boys but I know they are happy and cared for. Lately I love not checking social media when I travel. I want to be connected to what I'm doing and not what others are doing.
When I came home on Saturday I felt full and energized. I love getting to catch a glimpse of our life from the outside, just for a moment. I see our house with fresh eyes; a clean, bright, and tidy space. I'm always happy to return to the routines of normal weeks and being away allows me to see how we've designed our life. And that is a lovely return indeed.
Do you like to travel alone? What's your favorite or wish-list solo trip?