I’m travelling soon.
And so, I’ve been talking a lot to people about my impending trip.
All are excited for me, but the one topic is always comes up; travelling alone.
“Oh you’re so brave” or “It’s so exciting for you” they say.
And it is. I’ve travelled alone before and I anticipate that, as a natural-born loner, I’ll do it a lot more in my life.
I love it. I always have. The complete and utter freedom of it. The selfishness. The lack of compromise. The idea that no one else in the world knows where exactly you are, or what you’re doing, at that very moment in your life. You are anonymous and carefree. Accountable to no one.
Want to stop for some cake? Sure thing! Want to stop for a second piece? Who the fuck will judge you? Not a soul! Want to leave the art gallery after fifteen minutes (eight of which were spent in the gifts shop)? Do it! Spend two hours in a coffee shop bludging the free wi-fi and writing your self-indulgent blog about your feelings and shit ex-boyfriends? Nobody cares!
It’s just the best.
I do know, and appreciate, that it’s not for everyone. And that it’s a privilege that not everyone can afford. But that aside, sometimes I do get a slight undertone of “oooh, but won’t you be lonely?” From others.
And yeah, sure. I know that sometimes, I’ll see something amazing and so heart stompingly beautiful, or something shit will happen, that I’ll wish that I had someone meaningful there to squeeze the hand of, or hug.
But you know what else that I won’t have happen when I travel alone?
I won’t be standing in a Parisienne laundrette, bawling my eyes out, because my boyfriend is shitty with me, because I decided to spend our last morning in Paris doing some laundry because I had literally no clean clothes left, and he was still asleep at the time (it wasn’t like he’d made romantic plans). I won’t be standing there, sobbing, listening to him berate me about how we have “no time to get to the train station”, even though the stupid train doesn’t leave for another three hours and I was very careful and considerate about timings-thank-you-very-much.
This, poor, ancient, wrinkled, old lady, in a black shawl won’t be staring at me, this devastated girl, baffled at what could have happened to make me cry so much. I won’t be feeling so embarrassed, so humiliated, in front of her, that I just want the ground to swallow me up.
And I just wish, I wish, I could just go back in time and tell that stupid, cruel, man to fuck off and leave me alone. I wish I could shake my past self and tell her THIS IS NOT OKAY.
But I can’t.
But I can, instead, go on my own travels. Alone. And what will be will be. But you know what won’t be happening? I certainly won’t be crying in a laundrette in a foreign country, apologising to a stranger for my tears, because of a stupid and selfish boy.
And that, my friends, is the reason to travel alone. And what I remind myself of whenever anyone takes that pitying tone with me.
Well that, plus all the cake.