Last week I was in San Francisco for a poetry reading and writing workshop. I was hopeful that the trip would be a good one, but I never expected it to be as good as it was. I traveled by myself to the the beautiful Bay area, and while I was meeting friends there (we were doing the reading together), I knew I was going to be on my own a lot. "No problem," I thought, "I'll go out and explore!" This has happened before - I travel to a large city, end up with a lot of time on my own and all these fantasies of going out and exploring a new place, perhaps meeting a handsome local and then exploring the city together. This fantasy somehow also involves me wearing a hat (I don't really wear hats) and I'm usually very happy and confident walking the streets (think: the opening sequence to the Mary Tyler Moore Show). The ugly truth is this: I don't do well on my own.
Times when I've traveled on my own, I have found myself feeling completely isolated and lonely. I set out full of hope and excitement and find myself very quickly feeling alone and well, sad. I end up exploring for just a short while then I find a cafe where I sit and send text messages to people back home - and when I say people, I mean guys that I'm dating (but usually don't really like, but when I'm traveling, all of a sudden he's wonderful).
That was before the Strike.
Funny thing, this strike. It has unlocked all sorts of lessons and healing for me - and has helped me change behaviors I didn't even realize I was engaging in. I've written about several of these (hooking up with guys I don't really like, thinking less of myself, settling for less than I deserve, etc.) but new ones come up all the time. Spending eight months without dating (although I "ended" the Strike, I still haven't really begun dating) and doing so with the intent of learning about myself has taught me one really awesome lesson: I am GREAT on my own.
I know, I've written about the benefits of being single before, and I still stick by them, but I've now learned that not only can I travel alone, I can go out and explore an entire city by myself - and
|Mural, Balmy Alley, Mission District|
I've written before that because of the Strike, I've been completely closed off and existed behind walls. Building the walls was a necessity, but there is a fine line between getting over heartbreak and being closed off forever. I had no desire to meet anyone; nothing felt new; I didn't feel friendly or attractive, and I had no interest in dating. I wrote several blogs back about tearing down my walls, but as is the case with me, I never do anything easily, and tearing down my walls was proving to be much harder than I thought it would be.
I tried giving myself pep talks - telling myself that I was ready and happy and strong, and I am, but I still felt guarded and lonely. I tried reaching out, smiling more, talking about it and really, nothing felt right. I was beginning to accept the fact that my new reality existed of being alone, and that was just going to have to be okay.
Then I went to the Bay.
I felt so happy there, and even when I felt like I was in a slump (M. was there, and she gave me a very simple pep talk - "it's okay to feel this way," she said) I still felt free and unguarded. At the writing workshop and poetry reading, I got to meet so many wonderful people and I got the chance to reconnect with old friends, but more importantly, I found myself smiling again. I found myself opening up and coming back to life. I felt happy and carefree and alive. I allowed myself to be open and because of it, I came home feeling open, free from my walls.
I'm heading back to the Bay in two weeks for my friend D.'s wedding and I look forward to seeing some of the people I met, exploring more parts of the city and best of all, getting reacquainted with myself.
To be continued...
Next time: A Different Kind of Birther (for real, this time)