Day 5 of the 500 Word Challenge. Today, I am supposed to share a memorable moment. Although it has been a source of tension in my marriage, it still stands out as being one of the most significant trips of my life. My former job had yearly conferences in which my husband had attended. This particular year, I reluctantly went alone.
I remember making a big fuss about having to go alone and threatening to stay in my hotel room the entire time. I think that I may have considered not going because beyond going away to college, I had never gone anywhere by myself. My husband was unable to go because he had started a new job. He encouraged to me not only take the trip but to enjoy all that the city had to offer just as I had when he traveled with me.
I don’t remember much about the flight. I’m pretty sure that I was on the plane with many of my colleagues that I knew from our semi-annual meetings. When I landed in my host city for the conference, I remember looking at the airport with a new pair of eyes. I was more present and observant of my surroundings. The airport seemed small compared to the airport that I had left. It seemed more relaxed.
Still apprehensive about being on my first trip alone, I rode in silence pouting. I checked in to the hotel and called home to let my family know that I had arrived. With more coaching from my husband, I decided to make the best of my solo trip and take a little time to discover the city on my off times during the conference.
I intentionally did not set up times to meet up with my colleagues. The first day, I walked to an indoor two story mall not that far from my hotel where I grabbed something to eat. The calming sounds of what I thought was a waterfall greeted me at the door as I entered the building. I remember that familiar salty sweet food court smell calling me down the hall to discover something unique to the town that I was in. As I sat and ate my food, I remember watching how relaxed people walked through the small food court. The couples who walked through the mall with miniature versions of themselves taking four more steps than them because of their height was the most comical thing that I could see in that moment.
I was missing my family in that moment but decided not to call home to check in. A short walk away from the food court was a comedy club. Puzzled and curious by it’s placement in the mall, I decided to go in. Even though the space was not that large, I was careful to not sit too close to the front but not so far were I would draw attention to myself since I was alone. I decided that I would fully enjoy myself so I ordered some fruity drink that satisfied the two drink minimum. I don’t remember the comedians but I do remember leaving satisfied which means that they had made me laugh. A perfect beginning to my first day.
The rest of the week seemed to be a repeat of solo adventures where I learned to enjoy my own company. I went to a wax museum and even took some themed pictures with a fake shotgun in an old saloon. That was so much fun. I took the local bus to the larger mall outside of the comfort of the downtown area where my hotel was. I strolled to an outdoor museum or exhibit of the Alamo. That was a very serene and surreal visit for me. I realized as I read the different sections how close my national language could have been Spanish, had we lost.
To think that I almost sat in my hotel and pouted about taking a trip by myself makes me laugh. I would have never experienced the Riverwalk by foot or boat which made me fall in love with San Antonio. I would have never eaten in public alone or strolled through the city alone. I definitely would not have sat in a comedy club alone. I would have never had an opportunity to fall in love with a city that essentially opened the door to my independence.
I didn’t realize it then but that trip taught me that I can have moments to myself and not feel guilty. I also learned that traveling alone can be a blessing because of all the many gifts that I received on that trip. I don’t know that I would have experienced the city in the same way if I had a companion. There was no one there to point in a particular direction from their perspective. Every experience was my own and chosen by me. Maybe I will return to the city one day on another solo trip.
Here’s to taking a chance on a solo trip for you!
Just another day’s journey of discovering my moment of independence.