Featured Image: My childhood teddy bear, Bubba, always comes with me on vacation.
I’m learning to love being alone. Since my last experience, doing things alone has now become a guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve even started purposefully leaving people out of my plans.
Most recently, I went to the beach alone. It was on Labor Day, the last real day of summer (not like, biologically or anything, just symbolically), which put me in a panic as I realized I hadn’t gone to the beach even once the entire summer. This choice was the creator of much confusion and slight concern to my parents. “You couldn’t find anyone to go with?” they asked, to which I responded, “I didn’t ask anyone.” This statement was partially untrue, as I had asked a boy to go with me, but I didn’t really expect him to say yes and was also hoping he would say no (and, alas, still got my feelings hurt when he said no).
HOWEVER, butthurtedness aside, I decided that I should add “beach” to my list of places that I’ve enjoyed alone. And it was actually quite calming; I had time to write and read and nap. But also at times, it was quite lonely, as I heard groups of friends laughing and playing games together, as well as a little unsafe, as I swam alone and walked down the beach, leaving my backpack unattended. At one point whilst swimming, I thought about Edna from The Awakening, who (spoiler alert) drowns herself by walking out to sea. I did not want to drown myself per se, but it was the thought that even if I did, no one would even notice for, like, a good bit.
This made me want to take another writing retreat, and so yesterday I embarked on a solo trip to Salem, Massachusetts, and visited some museums. For the rest of the week I will be staying in an airbnb and spending time writing. Again, my parents, upon hearing of my plans, were full of concern, to which I reminded them that I am a twenty-four-year-old woman, and I quite enjoy being alone.
I find solo trips are good practice in self-managing and independence. There was no one to get on my ass about waking up on time. There was no one to remind me what time my parking pass expired or when my museum entrance time was. There was no one there to tell me that taking a shot at noontime was an odd choice.
Do you know how many times that I had to reiterate “yes, just one” or “yes, it’s just me” when responding to restaurant hostesses, ticket takers, and line cops (yes, security guards were making sure the lines to get into places weren’t too long)? Some of them seemed to pity me, some were mildly confused, and some didn’t care enough to take note of it. One of them, a girl likely my age, actually seemed quite proud.
I wish that we could normalize doing things alone. Frankly, there were times when I was embarrassed to be seen alone, even though I truly flourish when I have time to think my own thoughts and make my own decisions. There were times where I saw couples holding hands in a museum, or a group of friends walking and laughing together, and I would get jealous. But why the fuck am I jealous? My walking speed is three times theirs, and I am laughing at my own jokes. And that boyfriend wearing Timbs might be holding your hand, but it’s because he needs something to keep himself grounded in the reality that he let you drag him in to. You know the only reason I was able to get tickets for the Witch House tour? Because there was only one ticket left and no one else but I would buy one, singular ticket.
So I’m doubling down on this concept. Do it alone. Anything you want to do. Can’t find someone to go with you? Go anyway. Even if it’s a couple’s massage. Just do it.
(This was written in a tiny notebook while a little intoxicated; I have left it unedited for your pleasure.)
Eating chicken wings with reckless abandon in a townie bar while drinking to get drunk, as “Sweet Caroline” plays not-so-softly in the background, has absolutely SENT ME into a dissociative state that I did not think possible.
Just can’t get that level of dissociation– and chicken wing desecration.
It DOES NOT help that there is what feels like a bright spotlight above me that makes me feel like either a main character OR a subplot in a DnD campaign. -> ESPECIALLY with this group of four definite nerds (they’re talking about politics and conspiracy theories) – who are clearly the party*.
*For those of you who don’t know, a “party” is the group of people who play the Dungeons and Dragons campaign