I’ve never really travelled alone before. In the literal sense I have, but not in the sense of being by myself in a different place for any extended period of time.
When I was in London for study abroad last summer, I declined a trip to Cambridge with my companions to nurse my under-the-weather feeling and hopefully get some antitrust law reading done. As it turned out, I didn’t get much reading done, and I started getting restless once I realized that I didn’t have a cold after all. My work ethic in those early days of the trip was all but nonexistent. I decided that a lunch break was in order. I took the tube to Brixton. I’m certain that I’d never heard of Brixton before arriving in London, besides from that song, “The Guns of Brixton.” That was really all the encouragement I needed.
As I emerged from the Underground, I was greeted by the sound of steel drums coming from the street above. I suppose I did what any self-aware white girl would have done in that situation. I went to a movie theater bar to have an eggs Benedict. I witnessed what appeared to be some kind of bizarre racial tension boiling over in the streets. I wandered the outdoor market, bought two mangoes out of homesickness, and perused a record store. Then I found myself at this festival in a park eating chocolate Digestive crackers I got from the nearby Sainsbury and drinking terrible beer until I felt bored and guilty about not doing my antitrust reading.
Honestly, it wasn’t a bad afternoon. I felt like I was engaging with my environment in a way that I wouldn’t have if I had gone with someone else. Dull as it got towards the end, I had the vague realization that this could work. I could work on my own.
Well, I’ve booked my flight, my hotel, a ticket to an off-broadway play, I’ve told people at work, sort of… and I’m going to New York.
I’ve been waiting to go for years. I was devastated when my eighth grade class went, without me (my mom didn’t think I was old enough to go at the time). Crushed when my plans were derailed once again the summer before I started law school (I’d even done my homework on New York pizza).
It’s like life is trying to get in the way of my travel plans once again. I’ve been feeling very tired lately and having nighttime panic attacks intense and frequent enough to tickle my hypochondriac sensibilities. Not to mention that I sort of freaked out on a ferris wheel a couple weeks ago (have I, at the age of 21, developed a fear of heights?!). And salty food has not been treating me so good lately, which is not cool because this is supposed to be my pizza odyssey.
Well, I guess all my neurotic stuff can take a walk, because I’m still going. Next month may not be the best time, but it’s the time. I suppose if there is a place to learn rugged individualism, it’s New York.
And then there’s the traveling alone for fun stigma. This is the least of my worries. You can’t have individualism without self-reliance. And I’m simply not going to wait around for people to validate my experiences.
So, that’s all for now. Let’s see if I chicken out between now and then.