I went on my first solo vacation two weeks ago. It was actually half solo and half friends but I was pretty worried about the solo part. I wasn’t worried about the travel part – I was in Mexico and I’m very comfortable with that country and speak Spanish – but about the loneliness.
I’ve spent a lot of my life equating being alone or being bored with being depressed. Because every time I was alone or bored, I was depressed. Really, horribly depressed. To the point where I couldn’t get out of bed and didn’t know how to keep going. In fact, when I was really little, I used the word “bored” to mean “horribly sad and lonely and don’t know what to do.” But nobody knew that or understood – I didn’t even really understand, so nobody could help me.
My trip started out rough. I took a red-eye flight, which apparently I can’t handle as well now that I’m 42. I was exhausted and recovering from a cold. My ears hurt and I couldn’t stop coughing and all I wanted to do was sleep. Instead, I was supposed to try scuba diving the next day and I did my best to talk myself out of it.
Since I culdn’t get my money back for scuba, I decided to go and just tell them I wasn’t feeling great and see what they said. They were very understanding and said I could get out of the water at any point if I wanted.
I LOVED IT. It was meditative and amazing. I loved being down there with the sea life and not on top. It was magical.
That was only half of one day out of the four days I was alone. I read a lot, knitted a lot, sat on the beach, and talked to service workers in Spanish who were used to tourists just speaking English really loudly to them.
I was there over New Year’s and that was the only day I really had trouble. I woke up on New Year’s Day and felt really sad. Not because it was New Year’s – I’ve never cared at all about that. But because I was remembering traveling with my ex and how well we did together. I was remembering snorkeling holding hands and loving being in tropical warm water together.
That pushed me into staying in my room and sleeping much of the day. When I finally got up to eat, I had a realization. I was staying in an incredibly beautiful place. I could eat what and when I wanted, I could read, I could knit, I could sleep, and I could lounge in a hammock or on the beach. I could spread my stuff out all over the room in a way that would make other people crazy.
After that, I had a blast. I want to travel by myself more often, all over the place. I want to spend more time alone. It was incredibly healing.
Now I want to go back.