Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Splendid Isolation

I wanna live all alone in the desert
I wanna be like Georgia O'Keeffe
I wanna live on the Upper East Side
And never go down to the street.
"Splendid Isolation" by Warren Zevon

I admit it - I like my own company. And while I'm not quite the hermit my husband likes to think I am, we all need human contact after all, I do enjoy working, traveling, and living alone. It's why I don't mind so much when he has to travel for work, but also why I am happy to see him when he gets home again.

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As I prepare to go to South Africa, one of the questions I am asked most often is whether Nic is going with me, followed by whether I'm scared about going on my own. 

Not at all.

In fact, that's part of what is so invigorating about it, and a little scary at the same time because it has been a while since I traveled somewhere new alone.

I'm used to traveling alone and I have found it opens up some wonderful possibilities, and allows you to discover incredible things about the world around you and about yourself. Some of my favorite memories from solo travel include:
  • Going to Germany after high school to spend three months working on a mountain hut. One way day's hiking trip I was adopted by a Romanian couple who called me their daughter of the Edelweiss. They spoke no English; I spoke no Romanian, but we were able to communicate through French.
  • Moving to live in rural Japan. The first few weeks were incredibly lonely, but I started to pick up the language and become known in my little town. Neighbors and farmers took me under their wing, and soon I'd find myself arriving home from a simple walk armed with fresh produce from their gardens.
  • During a solo trip to the Japanese coast, I loved walking and people watching. One evening, I was the only customer in a small Italian restaurant. The chef opened a bottle of wine and joined me for dinner.
  • On a train ride around the western US, I met a group of women on their way to see Oprah, an elderly woman who had grown up in an earth house on the North Dakota plains, hiked in Marin County, and more.

Now any of those experiences could have happened if I had been traveling with someone, but chances are they wouldn't have been so memorable. When you're traveling in a group, it's easy to be less adventurous, to go with the crowd, to have little to no interaction with locals. 
So when I think about my upcoming trip, am I nervous? Of course. But I am also exhilarated by the knowledge that I will rediscover strengths I didn't know I had. And that's part of the fun of travel.

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1 comment:

  1. I sailed the south pacific solo... well, that's not quite right. Over the 5 months I joined 3 boats as crew, but between sailing I was on my own.