Nearly two weeks have passed since I first climbed aboard the first of several planes which would carry me across the country. I have climbed mountains, talked to strangers, gotten lost in a new city, and eaten an undisclosed number of doughnuts. No joke. Thank goodness we are entering “hide my doughnut shame underneath a big sweater” season. It was research, I did it for you. I will always sacrifice my waistline for the good of my readers. That’s just how much I love you all.
You know how when people go away by themselves they always come back and tell you that they learned a lot about themselves? Blah, blah, blah. Effusive hipsters. Well, as obnoxious as all that sounds, I get it. Traveling solo is enlightening.
Even though I am rolling my eyes at myself as I type these horrendously cliche words, I wanted to share a couple of things that I learned while I was prancing about the country, solo style.
1. I learned that traveling alone means you always get to pick the restaurant. I like that. I like that a lot! When I have travelled with others and meal time rolls around my travel buddies usually say they don’t care where we eat. “Let’s just pick something.” Of course, I am then obligated to be easy going and reply by saying that I do not care either, even though I TOTALLY CARE. Of course, I could save about 20 minutes per meal time, an hour each day, just by telling them where we should go, but then I would be a controlling foodie jerk. When I’m traveling by myself, there is no discussion. I just choose. End of story. It’s a perk of solo travel.
2. I learned that you can always eat more doughnuts than you think. Trust me on this one, it was tested thoroughly.
3. I learned that I transform into a total chatterbox when I’m alone by myself for more than eight hours. When I go out into my own town I keep my head down and my chatting to a minimum. I’m there for a purpose - probably to buy butter, and I want to get home with minimal delays. I have plenty of conversations throughout the day with the normal characters in my life and seeking out conversation with strangers is not something I generally feel compelled to pursue. BUT, when I am touring solo and haven’t talked to another human all day long, I see strangers in a new light. “Well, hello there stranger! I’m having the time of my life, but I am also a bit lonely and I haven’t even come close to using up my five thousand words for today, so would you mind if I chat you up a bit? Do you like chocolate? Would you like to hear about these revolutionary caramels I just discovered?” You get the idea. It was weird - I found myself being the kind of person I have always avoided, yet admired. And I watched others, similar to the normal version of myself, become surprised and yet appreciative of having someone to talk to.
4. I learned that you should always try the Pear and Blue Cheese Ice Cream. YOLO that stuff - you won’t regret it. You will, however, probably regret saying YOLO, like I now am. *Sigh*
5. Lastly, I learned that it’s alright to cry in the streets because you got lost, again. Order two obscenely large doughnuts and eat them both yourself. Buy a dozen bags of candy and do not offer an explanation. Shamelessly take selfies to text to your sister. Do whatever the heck you want because it’s vacation and you never have to see those staring strangers again.
Thank you Portland. Thank you for welcoming me into your beautiful city. It was a pleasure to meet you.