I’m a “just give me a rainy day, a blanket, and a good book” kind of girl. If there were a profession where the job description went something like “You must be able to lie under a tree and read for long periods of time” I would be in that interview room in a jiffy.
But life lately has been noisy and busy, and though I am raising two bright, inquisitive boys in the midst of the chaos, this lover of quiet was craving a break. So I ventured out on a little road trip and learned a few things along the way (that’s over here).
Now, I know not everyone has the same desires and you may never find yourself using the words “solo trip” and “fun” in the same sentence. But for all of you who, like me, lean more towards the introverted side of things, this post is for you. The first thing I’ll say is that even if you crave solitude like a sugar addict craves her chocolate, a trip by yourself can get scary quiet. And if you’re not prepared for that silence the first hour might leave you running home screaming, never to venture out alone again.
The great thing about this trip is that it required next to no preparation. I stocked the freezer with a couple of frozen dinners for my husband and kids, booked a room in the first B&B I could find, threw a sweater, jeans, and some mascara in my backpack, and filled up the gas tank. But there was one question I knew I needed to take very seriously. And that was What will I read?! The 3 books I brought with me were my constant companions, and each of them served a different purpose. The first was an audiobook (Wonder by R.J. Palacio) which was the perfect way to pass the 4+ hours of driving I did. The next was a non-fiction (Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert) which gave me plenty of writing and traveling inspiration. The third was a fiction (Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls) which was absolutely the best dinner date (she never interrupted me once, in all the time we spent together!).
Speaking of dining alone, you happen to do a fair share of this when you head out on a road trip by yourself. I used to feel intimidated when I walked into a restaurant and had to reply “Just one, actually” to the waitress holding up two menus and saying with a shiny smile “Table for two, dear?” And to then have to sit at the table quietly while I watched her scramble to pull away the extra cutlery and glasses, like she was stripping me of all dignity. But now this whole eating alone thing is pretty great. I know to call and reserve a table beforehand so there’s none of those awkward transitions. I come in with a fresh coat of lipstick, my favourite scarf (and book, of course), and I have all the confidence I need when I walk in and announce “Table for Andrea, please”. One last thing — just put the book down when your food arrives, and keep the reading for before and after. This will save your pages from collecting droplets of the delicious cream sauce that’s dripping down your chin, and it’ll help you remember that dinnertime requires no distractions. Eating is a wonderful activity all on it’s own.
Traveling by myself was fun. But the best thing that came out of my weekend away was seeing how much richness my relationships add to my life. As messy, and noisy, and frustrating as people can be, when you remove all of these complexities you begin to understand how empty life can be without them. I am a total advocate for growing in self-love and self-confidence, but we are not fully alive on our own. We need each other. We are to be a light for someone, just as someone is to be a light for us. Solitude helps our flame grow stronger, but who are we to keep this warmth to ourselves? We were made to share it with the world.
So go enjoy some time away by yourself, but don’t forget to come back and light up the place you call home.