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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Caught by the Bug and Traveling Solo: Notes & Epiphanies

August 29, 2011  
Filed under Coffee Table

By Amanda Deltuvia —

traveling soloThe alarm rings. It’s 3AM. Mouth is dry and adrenaline is pumping as I grab coffee and head to the airport. I’m feeling achy, but it’s going to be worth it. Leave early, but not too early…The fear of missing a flight is like when your feet fall asleep.

I take it all in. Wait. Scan shoes. It’s only been four months after coming back from Europe. Thank God America has a quicker security check.

Traveling alone is like getting a bug bite. Once you’re bitten, you can’t help but scratch. I was scratching after a winter of boredom. What do you do when you’re trapped in New Jersey in need of filling a void after the thrill of being out of the country? Live vicariously through your pictures, and that’s about it. The computer screen of the towns, cobblestones, monuments, nightclubs, sunsets melt down your throat like day-old coffee. The taste isn’t the same but it’s comforting for a while. So, I decide to hop on a plane to Cali.

From above, the towers, buildings, bridges become a flashback to my adolescent years of tiny Polly Pocket pieces in my hands. I can’t help but imagine something going wrong in the engine and the plane plummeting back to earth. That thought quickly smashes my innocent flashback. I’m alone, so at least none of my friends or family would be hurt. I can sit in my own fear and be oddly content with it.

Traveling alone is almost an existential experience. You’re alone with your thoughts, no one to shoot dialog of excitement to. No pong-like conversation in preparation for an awesome time.

Being alone has its perks. There are no quarrels on the day’s agenda, no pressure to be entertaining or choose the best restaurants or sites. You can sit in the silence of a new place and take everything in. It becomes a sensory experience. It’s sensual, film-noir-esque and transcendental. It’s lonely, slow and sometimes I wasn’t sure how to take it all in. Sometimes I wanted to break down and cry, and other times the air escaped my lungs.

Those are the moments of my traveling that are the most vivid. The colors, tastes, textures all flood back to me. Walking alone, letting the world slap you in the face forces me to stand a bit taller. There are no shields, no blockades between you and public perception. I become oddly vulnerable. It’s as if I was shedding old layers of myself with every new step alone.

Watching people live in a place that seems so foreign; eating mille-feuille at a table outside in the cold; wine and foreign tongues that aggravate your ears and eventually evolve into white noise; sleeping inside a tiny cabin in a docked sailboat during a thunderstorm that felt like my life could be taken at any moment; wandering to Long Beach and finding a shoe store that John Wayne used to shop in; experiencing life in a country home in Italy; talking to the most wonderful French girl you will ever meet while eating paninis; making jokes with strangers or gazing at them just to see if you can get a glimpse of who he or she truly is…

For a long time, my eyes had been foggy and it was as if a film had been peeled from my eyes. Every new experience is a new warm cup of coffee to hold in your hands. Traveling alone is really traveling to find yourself. You learn to become content with your shell. You learn to hold your head up and stare the world in the face without the safety net of a significant other or a friend to fill in the space. And undeniably, nothing is more rewarding than the long awaited embrace of arrival upon landing.

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