My Second Year of Adventure Begins
Tonight I’m leaving America and heading to the one-bedroom unit I’ve rented on an island in Croatia for this spring. It’s the commencement of my second year into the adventure of living life half-time between two countries.
Mid-life American woman me, living and traveling by herself. No partner. No ongoing traveling companion, even. No real property and very little personal property to my name.
In these Hupdaditty columns, I’m lucky enough to share parts of the adventure and what I’m learning along the way.
And what I’ve learned the most–and the most amazingly, to me–is how committed and grateful I have become to this new way of life . . . despite the side-effect it turns out to have on some. Who see it as abandonment. Of security, of regularity, and of them. (With which I do not agree, but that is another story.)
As long as I can (and things like the possibility of as-yet-unknown changes in travel/visa requirements later this spring leave this uncertain), I have to do life this way right now.
The have-to comes in a couple of parts.
There is the have-to that’s come from learning this past year that my instincts and intuition and rhythms are such good, basic, critical, authentic and necessary parts of myself that to deny them at this point would be a kind of . . . death. To creativity. To honest possibilities. To learning more and more and more to love this self that the Universe planted in me, instead of ignoring it by putting it back into a box on a shelf in the basement of a house I “should” live in full-time, to fit into American norms . . . . while I spend another few decades taking care of loved ones’ needs and schedules instead of paying any attention first to my own.
I am too old for that.
I am too old any more to stick my self back into a box and ignore it, and instead to be a “kind” person to others . . . who does not flummox them with evidence that a different way of life can be thrilling and satisfying, and who does not leave them geographically for cyclical periods of time.
This is the kind of thing that travelling solo teaches you.
Because, in traveling solo, instead of deferring to others in your circle and how they do and want things, you have to do and figure out every single move for yourself. Which includes asking locals how to do things. Watching what others do. Having patience. Laughing at yourself when you screw up. Getting lost and not freaking out about it. Going places and doing things that are completely new and unfamiliar. Making a lot of wrong turns and mistakes. And friends.
The insights you will perceive from paying this kind of attention, from moving through your anxieties, from connecting with new people across different languages, from seeing things through beginner’s eyes . . . and the self-confidence you will earn for yourself through the process . . . are amazing, priceless things you can’t get any other way.
And once you get them, you will not want to give them up. Nor, I believe, should you.
And that is another have-to about living life this way.
Isn’t this the kind of model you might actually want to provide ongoing for your self, for others who might need similar encouragement, and for your grandchicks? That it’s an awesome thing to be a woman who follows her adventurous, creative, intrepid spirit where it tells her to go . . . even if it’s not going to be easy, or palatable to, or understood by everyone else?
Sometimes, you just have to.
Next time: What exactly is it about traveling solo that teaches us such profound things in such profound ways?