August 5, 2013

Comets in the Night: The Joys of Solitary Travel.

I look at the haggard husk of the person from which I emerged but days before and wonder how I ever fit inside.

I had forgotten what it feels like to be a comet flying through space, alone and unfettered by the confines of friends or significant others.

This trip has been one extended exfoliation, rubbing off layer upon layer of self imposed restrictions, dead skin scraped away, accumulated over years of living in the company of others with so little time to myself—the desire to please, suppressing the self to maintain the peace between partners, ensuring the boat is not rocked, the schedule met smartly, everyone happy and no one left unattended. The inexplicable desire to attempt facilitation of others to live vicariously through me—trying to, in part, bring others along for the ride when they are stuck at home. I stop myself short, for in truth, while I wish they were here for their sake, I don’t particularly wish they were here for my sake.

In truth, the sound of my footsteps as my only companion is a much needed change.

Where I am is unimportant; that I am alone is worth its weight in gold.

I feel liberated to dictate the confines of my life and my actions, the day sculpted by my desires and no one else’s, free to grow fast, sprawling and resplendent. My actions are my own; my life is my own. No one to rely on. Clear cut. Simple. Defined.

My world is open and the newness of each day comes flooding in amidst a torrent of new faces, new experiences, new sights, new sounds and new sensations. Each day stretching long and luxurious before me like a river of satin.

I had nearly forgotten what it was like to genuinely and spontaneously strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. To make a small, temporary, yet tender connection with someone in a mirco-moment that is as impactful as it is brief, whisked away as paths diverge and lives surge forward, little cosmic comets whirly-gigging around each other in this crazy dance of living; bumping and knocking into one another in beautiful accidents; zipping away only to cross paths half a year later down the line several hundred miles away—as was the case on this sojourn in San Diego to romp amongst the trials and tribulations of a multiday conference.

I am by no means saying that traveling in tandem is something to avoid. Far from it. Traveling with someone is wonderful and a brain-buzzing excitement all on its own—but it takes a lot, and it takes the right partner, just like any relationship. Sometimes you just need to jet off into the sunset and roll through life in the perfect solitude of unfamiliar faces. Feel the world inside you stretch vast and cry out to the stars.

At the end of the road, you might not have memories to share with someone close, but you’ve grown a little closer to you and you have memories—a mosaic of vibrant, luminous snapshots of time that are wholly yours that perpetuate that sprawling mural of your life.

When you look back you’ll see a change, a shift, a magnificent alteration. A shivering change in world that is you. Mysterious things happen when traveling alone. Summer flings, rambunctious adventures, looks that say I love you from people you’ll never see again.

Smiles from comets passing in the night.

I had forgotten, so long kept in the confines of the galaxies of friendships or relationships. Traveling alone hurls me naked at a high velocity out of my self imposed orbit and into deep space. Into the sprawling world.

It feels so good, like swimming in silken stardust. I wonder how I ever forgot how to swim alone in the world, free to meet new people at my leisure and investigate the tail end of some unfamiliar street, the world my ever opening oyster.

I might not even go to the last day of the conference.

I toy with the idea of waking up at 5 tomorrow and blazing a happy trail down to the seaside to dip my hips in the waves at dawn.

Potential is a decadent drug, like snorting ground pearl dust off a mermaids tail.

Who knows what will happen.

I’ve still today yet to finish, and the world is singing my name in every second.

From my hotel room window, backlit by the haunting purple haze of the early morning sky stained with the city lights, I feel myself stretch limitless like horizon, an endless unseen cascade of potential.

Long has it been since I have traveled with only my shadow.

Long has it been since I lived truly in myself, by myself, for myself and no one else.

Long has it been since my spine tingled with the toxins of treading unfamiliar roads by my lonesome.

I look at the staggering number, sitting like a muddy paw print from some hell-borne fat cat at the bottom of my hotel bill slipped under my door this morning, and I wonder, while I stretch, if this solitary interpersonal space travel has been worth it.

The answer is a unanimous yes.

My shadow and I needed some face time.

It was worth every penny painfully forked over.


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Ed: B. Bemel

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