I told you all I would blog about my adventure as it was happening but I lied. Once my adventure began unfolding I was either too consumed or my head hit that pillow and I couldn’t even fathom writing a word before drifting off to sleep.
I decided early this year that I was going to check some things off my bucketlist, per usual. My bucketlist is never ending, informal and made up in my head, and mostly daydreamy pictures on my Pinterest board that I want to see in real life. So if I die, direct my children to my Pinterest board and instruct them to follow my lead on all of the best places with the best views and the greatest adventure because I’ve been working on that Pinterest board for years and it’s good stuff. Ok? Please and thank you.
One of the things I wanted to do was see Big Sur. I’m a sucker for good views and the color teal. I heard the water was teal and the beaches were purple. Guess what? They are. A million photos could never do it justice.
When I heard my niece was getting married in Santa Barbara, I was thrilled. What better excuse to travel the Coast? This little lady made me an Auntie for the first time and I surely did not want to miss her special day. I racked my brain with people that would want to come with me, and if I would take the kids or not. I didn’t know anyone that could take the time off of work and/or their personal obligations. I have had this phrase playing in the back of my head for some years, and it always rears its head when I’m faced with a decision of wanting to do something but having nobody available to do it with.
“I was never going to go if I waited for someone to come with me”
Why would I pass up on a dream of mine because my friends agendas didn’t match mine?
I don’t fly well because of childhood ear issues so that was out of the question. Roadtrips are my jam anyway. Why would I take I-5 when I could take Highway 1 just as easily, pitch a tent for a night to enjoy the views rather than driving by in a whirlwind– having it be a view, rather than an experience.
I have always been a bit of a social butterfly loner. I love the chaos of lots of people, the parties, the city, the bustle, the busy. And then I want to go home and crawl into my bed to retreat into a book or music. I could be alone for days. As a teenager, I became very good at being alone, my mother always marveling at how independent I was, when really I just felt like I didn’t have a choice. Nobody was around to do things for me, so I just did them myself. As a young adult, I got my own apartment and lived on my own. As a wife and young mother I learned the value of being alone. My “friends” fell off the face of the earth and my husband worked 12 hours shifts and slept a lot, but it was okay. I needed that alone time. I needed to process and restore. It’s what writing has always done for me- given me time to reflect, digest, and express without actually having to talk to anyone.
People often see “alone” and intertwine it with “lonely”. You see someone eating dinner by themselves and you assume they have nobody to eat with, or staying home alone at night must mean you don’t have anyone to go out with or join you in. A few years ago, I was craving something particular and nobody was available to get lunch with me so I just said fuck it and went by myself. Let me tell you, it was awkward and fantastic. At first, I debated if I should pretend that I was meeting someone and then they never showed up but then decided that that was even more pathetic than just wanting to eat a meal. I kept looking around to see who was looking at me. And then I realized that nobody was, and I enjoyed my meal.
My trip went a lot like that, the enjoyment part. If I could relive that trip everyday, I would. I saw Big Sur, Los Angeles, Santa Barabara, Yosemite, and San Francisco all in 7 days. I ate lunch on a cliff overlooking the ocean, I slept on natures floor, pitched my own tent, made my own meal via headlamp, drove 13 hours straight with the same CD, stayed in 3 different hostels in 3 different cities, went hiking alone, ate ice cream on the Pier, danced with total strangers at a gay bar, buried my toes in purple sand, stopped 171 times to enjoy the view on my way down the 101- afraid to miss a single moment. And I did this all alone.
One thing that did not happen on my trip: I didn’t find myself. The chaos in my head calmed for a few days, but it didn’t go away. I didn’t have a huge epiphany about how to solve all my problems, or figure out how to fall asleep at night without wondering if my kids are going to be okay.
But I did learn the truth in the saying, “wherever you go, there you are”
I had a few good cries. I got more drunk than I intended. I called my friends, I facetimed my kids, I saw my family one day, and I met up with a long distance flame. Hell, I even went to my first strip club. And I extended my trip one day for selfish reasons and because I ran out of money and had to wait on a check to clear. And I laughed about it because here I was having this great adventure, in a different state, and I was still just “me”… Per usual.
You can’t run away from yourself, and you can’t hide who you are. And that’s all I learned.