Written August, 2013
I’ve spent the last three and a half days in San Francisco – meeting up with my husband on a work trip to avoid insanity from three weeks alone with the kids. But because of his work, I’ve spent much of my time alone. At first I was afraid of this. I arrived, quickly realized we would not be sight-seeing together, thought maybe I didn’t want to take this trip after all, and freaked out for an hour or so. But then I watched, almost as an outside observer, as my self-preservation instincts kicked in. I studied maps online and in good old paper form, began looking up area attractions, saw the bright side of some time alone and planned my days. Writing time, shopping, a museum, the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, boba in Chinatown. After a much-too-late dinner that first night, I awoke the next morning with a bit of uncertainty but a determination to have fun.
The day began with French toast, then a celebrity sighting of a pot-reeking Bruce Willis, followed by a gentleman who apparently needed to adjust his boxers in Starbucks by unzipping a few feet away. And then I settled in to write. I worked and drank my tea and people-watched and smiled. I was feeling very grown up, all alone in downtown San Francisco. Granted, Marc was only a few blocks away, but he wasn’t with me and wasn’t going to be very much. I was on my own and it felt just fine.
You may be wondering what the big deal is. I am, in fact, a grown up. I do have three kids who I manage to feed and clothe daily, I have had plenty of jobs, I have functioned in society without hand-holding for many years. Big deal, I’m hanging out on the city alone. But I am, by nature, a worrier. A first-born, cautious type. I have not traveled the world alone like my brave friend Amy. I do not have the independent spirit of my husband. I like a plan, I like a friend, I like knowing what I’m dealing with.
I did travel to Taiwan with only a friend for the summer after I graduated from college, I’ve been separated from Marc in Bangkok and thought for an hour or so that I’d be returning a widow, I moved to L.A. after living in Kansas my whole life, so I do have an adventurous bone in my body. It’s just smallish. And it needs the company of another to truly be content. In the case of this trip, I had the safety net of my husband nearby if disaster struck. But for much of the time it was just me and my iphone getting around. I exercised my adventure muscles a bit, and I gotta say, it felt good.
The other part of being alone that made me nervous was, well, being alone. No one to talk to (gasp), no one to help me decide whether the jeans fit or where to get boba, no one to enjoy the city with. As it turns out, I did get to see Marc some (breakfast and dinner, a lunch or two, a walk around Telegraph Hill ) so I was able to talk – a necessity for me. And I had a chance to remember how much I like my own company. I get along with myself quite well – we like the same food, have the same interests, don’t argue much. I spent three days doing what I wanted, enjoyed being quiet, gave my mouth a break and used my leg muscles instead. All in all a pretty good getaway for a stay-at-home mom.
I wouldn’t want to live alone, but it served me well to be as such for a few days. It reminded me that I am an adult, I do like hanging out with myself, and I can read a map. I was glad to see my kids again, but partly because I’d had time to think and explore. And answer only my own questions. I still wouldn’t choose to travel alone – I’d rather go with my husband or a friend. But I can do it, and have fun, too. It’s just good to know.