In the three years since I became a widow, I have traveled almost as much as I had in the previous fifteen combined. My odometer has whined about the nearly 250,000 miles.
When it came time for me to book my flight to Minnesota for the Kay Marie Sisto Memorial Walk, I got a bit wistful amidst the flurry of confirmation numbers and reservations.
Long ago, I learned a lesson from my grandparents. They had worked all of their lives and went on one vacation together: 1983. While they had a wonderful time, I knew from them both it was far too late for a first and would unfortunately be the only.
When my granddaddy died in 1992, I was pregnant with my first son. I did not want to have my marriage take a permanent backseat to raising my children and some j-o-b.
Traveling with the children was a given. My older children are quite the jet setters, having hundreds of thousands of sky miles. My younger children have ground miles on them… lots and lots of miles.
While we were married, there was little time (or opportunity) for us to be alone without the children. We made due with hotel suites where the little ones could be in another room, but no matter where we were, it was a lot like being at home, regardless of the crispy white sheets and trial-sized everything.
My trip to Minnesota was the first one I have taken alone since Russell died. No, I was not truly alone because I met Val there, but it was the first one with me traveling as a single.
Carry on bags: One.
No one in the truck on the way to and from the airport. No one to backseat drive. No one to help with luggage. No one to create overweight bags. No one to drool on my shoulder on the plane. No one on my hip. No one to ask 30 times how long before the plane landed. No one to shriek when the flight attendant said just one more beer was out of the question. No one to ask if they could ride in the overhead compartment. No one who wanted to go to the head every ten minutes. No one to say the air was too cold. No one to complain it was too hot. No one to try to convince me we were getting off on the wrong floor. No one to want the pillow on my side of the bed. No one to wake me up three hours before my body was ready. No one to be asleep 20 minutes after we should have left. No one to tuck into bed. No one to kiss goodnight. No one to tell me to turn off the reading light. No one to object to the music I chose. No one to tell me I shop too slow.
Even my CrackBerry defected for this trip. The shipping PTB saw to it I left with a dead battery which stayed that way until I got home to the batteries which arrived after my plane touched down in Minneapolis. Everyone knew I was going to be gone. Very few texted. Fewer called. I had email turned off.
Time dilates when you are alone. Your perception of it is hyper acute, which makes it seem to crawl. (See Watched pot never boils.) In the hours I waited in the airport, I observed many travelers.
The harried couples with little ones in tow. An elderly couple with a handicapped, adult child. Grandchildren escorting their grandparents here and there. Newlyweds. Soldiers coming home to balloons, roses and posters. Business people attached at the ear and palm to offices thousands of miles away.
As I walked the concourse, I caught my reflection in a door. I stopped. It was just me. For the first time in nearly three decades, it was just me. I filed the picture away for later. I popped back up on my radar four days later.
Dragon Down the Road
To be honest, I missed my truck. When I walked up to it late Sunday night, I stopped with the key in the lock. There I was again, looking back from the dark window. One. I gave myself a chin up smirk and put the bags in the cabin.
I climbed behind the wheel and prepared for take off. (Yes, it is similar to flight crew preparation.) As the truck warmed, I thought about it again. One.
For some reason, I really thought I would be much older when I was sans entourage.
Do you travel alone? Is it normal or new for you? Was Three Dog Night right?
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