If you’re a full-time parent like me, you’ll understand the magnitude of what I’m about to say:
I’m embarking on a solo trip. That is alone. As in by myself. No husband, no kids. I don’t even know how to express how excited I am.
I’m going to New York City for the first time in decades, and I can’t wait.
I still remember how it feels to travel alone. I can close my eyes and cast my mind back to years ago, before the husband, before the child, to a time when I took off for parts unknown by myself several times a year.
I think back to a trip to Prague with my boyfriend (now husband) just a few months after we met. I had done a lot of solo traveling before going on that trip, and it was strange how easily I slipped into traveling with a new person. It was great, but I didn’t realize how different it was until one day on our trip he didn’t feel well and decided to stay in bed that afternoon. After being assured by him that he was only mildly ill, I opted to go out and explore a little by myself instead of spending all day in the hotel room with him.
I walked out of the hotel and started wandering in whatever direction I thought looked interesting. I felt myself relaxing into my old self from just a few months ago. “Oh, right, THIS is what it feels like,” I thought as I explored the winding streets. There were no consultations on where someone else might want to go, no negotiations about where to eat or if we should stop. It was completely up to me.
Fast forward to the present day with a husband and child, and it’s been a long time since I’ve traveled alone. When we travel, there are always other voices that need to be heard. My husband might want to go to a museum while I want to stop in at that cafe down the street for a croissant, and my daughter needs a nap. I’m well-accustomed to the negotiations and compromises necessary when traveling with my family.
But on this trip, I’ll be in charge. I’m going to the Women’s Travel Fest conference, but guess what… if I get there and decide that I want to explore the city instead, I can! I probably won’t, of course, but that’s not the point. The point is that all decisions are in my hands.
I’m wondering if New York seem as big as it did when I was younger. Will I still be slightly intimidated by all the people rushing around on sidewalks and huge skyscrapers filling the skies?
I want to see how the city has changed since I last visited. But I also want to see how I’ve changed. The city will be different, but – several decades later – I’ll be different, too. The way I see things now will be different from how I saw them when I was younger. How much of the change in what I see will be attributable to the city itself changing, and how much is attributable to how I’ve changed over time?
It’s a short trip this time – just for a weekend – but I’m going to squeeze in as much exploring as possible in each of those 48 hours I’ve got.