Monday, February 4, 2008

Or....Perhaps Go Alone

Just three months after returning home from my “around the world” trip and it happens again… itchy feet, restlessness, agitation. I’ve got another case of wanderlusties and I need get on a plane. Luckily my friend Adrienne emailed with a plan. “Five women, a beach in Mexico, four nights, exceedingly affordable. Who’s with me?” She wrote.

I didn't know these women (aside from Adrienne) and since I would be meeting them in Mexico, I would do the traveling alone. Perfect. I love to travel alone. It allows me to indulge my favorite guilty pleasure, people-watching. Sometimes this is the most entertaining part of a trip. Once, at an afternoon Jimmy Buffett concert in Wrigley Field I got separated from my friends. Rather than trying to sift through the partying parrotheads*, I sat in the bleachers and watched the shenanigans unfold.

I got to see “Wow This Beer Stuff Tastes GREAT” guy, muster enough liquid courage to dance with “Third Prettiest In The Group” girl. “Jumping’ Waving” couple were having a blast together, but seemed unable to synchronize the sipping of their beverages and were rapidly becoming “Soaking Jumping Waving” couple. My favorite was “Happy Dancing Alone” dude. He was a young, smiley guy who danced his way around the entire stadium walkway a dozen or more times. He nodded greetings to anyone who made eye contact, and toasted every glass he could reach without breaking the song’s rhythm. And every woman who crossed his path was gently twirled, winked at, and bid adieu with a bow or a two fingered salute. That dude knew how to travel alone.

My husband deposited me at the Minneapolis airport that -15o January morning and lovingly bid me farewell with “You suck, have fun.” I felt washed with a familiar, heady excitement. It reminded me of a time nearly three decades ago, when clutching a temporary driver’s license in my 16 year old hands; I went out for a drive. Alone.

I was the first to arrive at the hotel, and as the room wasn’t quite ready, I had to wait. So I flounced off to the restaurant for lunch. I couldn’t have been happier sitting in that beachside café eating fish tacos and drinking a cold beer - alone. The waiter spent a good deal of time talking with me. Maybe he felt sorry for me having to dine alone. Silly boy.

After lunch I holed up on a beach chair, still dressed in my warm “from up north” clothes and watched the waves roll into shore - alone. I saw “Annoyed Underbreath Mumbler” husband applying sun block to “You’re Not Doing It Right” wife’s back. Just a few chairs down were “Starry-eyed Honeymoon” couple. She was lying back in her lounge chair, eyes closed, sporting a white bikini, a beautiful tan and a blissful smile. He was smiling too until he spotted “You’re Not Doing It Right” wife, and then wordlessly began to glance from her to his new bride with something between fear and realization on his face.

Adrienne arrived with the others and we all set about the business of getting to know each other. Now I have been married to “Center Stage” man for 20 years, and am very comfortable getting to know new people through him. He generally initiates the telling of our funny stories and is mostly responsible for creating the first impression. He is a charming guy and people generally love him, but it I liked creating a different first impression - alone.

The long weekend turned out to be an exercise in sunning, lounging, eating and drinking. I enjoyed getting to know new people, but also myself in some small ways. We had political discussions I wouldn’t normally have and I heard myself expressing opinions I hadn’t voiced before. We enjoyed funny conversations which gave me the opportunity to tell stories and use witty lines my husband has heard dozens of times. But with this fresh audience, I got the laughs I hadn’t heard in awhile.

In addition, I got to be an observer as much as I wanted. One morning, I witnessed "Drunky McLushenstein Experiences Hangover Regret” kid (young construction dude from Chicago) trying to recall the interaction he apparently had with “Early Rising Trolling Cougar” (much older VERY romantically interested woman). He shuffled by my lounge chair, wearing swimsuit and dark sunglasses, head hanging and feeling so ill that he couldn’t even manage to lift his heals. He was emitting a low moan and I could smell the mixture of Coppertone and stale beer from 10 paces. She was in the pool shouting his name and waving frantically. “Jim, Jim, JIM! It’s ME, OVER HERE!” He looked toward her, whispered under his breath “Awww #%&!” (very naughty word). He sighed deeply, turned and crept over to the pool to try to sort out what he’d done the night before and face the music.

And also, as much as I wanted, I was alone; exploring the grounds, walking the beach, coming and going as I pleased without having to check with any one else’s schedule.

This experience got me thinking. Are there other women like me somewhere? Women who, from time to time would like to travel with the safety and companionship of a group, but also with the option to be alone? I’m not talking about a woman’s retreat, a therapy or enrichment group or some team building experience, but rather just a group of women who like to travel together – alone.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, drop me a line at

Who’s with me?

*Parrotheads are fervent Jimmy Buffett fans who go to concerts wearing beachy costumes like coconut bras, grass skirts, and any manner of silly head dress. They tailgate the event, are likely drink too much, and dance like no one is watching. I have never been a parrothead….and I will never do it AGAIN!


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