Thursday, November 29, 2007

Solo travel

I started this post two days ago sitting in SeaTac... I didn't finish it because I was greeted by a classmate, Marriane, who was joining my flight to continue the journey to Washington DC. We're both here to attend the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association. I had planned on finishing the post when I got here, but it didn't happen and now, I've kind of lost my train of thought...

But, the thought has kind of continued as I've continued to feel a little off. What I've come up with is that I feel stuck in some sort of limbo. I'm neither traveling truly solo, nor with true travel companions. Some sort of weird nebulous territory in between.

That's not what I was feeling at SeaTac...I was feeling as a solo traveller at the time...but that has since morphed as my situation has.

I'm sitting in the Seattle airport by myself. It's a place I've sat, by myself, a multitude of times in the past. But, it's been a really long time since that last happened.

I realized last night, or maybe the night before, that this is the first trip I will have gone on by myself in a long time. I was excited about it when I realized that.

I used to find solo travel so exciting and liberating. I love sitting in airports and watching people coming and going (though it is less exciting now that people can't greet each other and say their farewells at the gates...) all why tucked away to myself, in the recesses of my brain, imagining what adventure might lay ahead of me.

I would occasionally (sometimes more frequently than others) make conversation with a random stranger...but I think more often I just observed.

Yet now, after a short 2.5 hour flight (during most of which, I slept) and 45 minutes by myself in this airport I just feel lonely.

It wasn't that I didn't used to feel lonely when traveling solo. I frequently felt painfully lonely. But the loneliness itself was liberating. Now it feels like a burden. I don't know what changed, really.

I mean, sure, for 6 years I had one constant travel companion...and I got used to traveling with someone. But there were enough times that I wished to be traveling by myself. To just take off on a grand adventure. Me against my journey.

Is it just that I just learned to be spoiled by constant companionship that I now I'm uncomfortable without it? But what of those times when I felt intensely lonely even with companionship?

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