I've always been afraid of being alone, and then I learned differently.
Not afraid like Black-Swan-paintings-rolling-their-big-white-eyes-at-me-afraid, just afraid like I'd burst into a thousand pieces over finding Something To Do, With People. Nervousness would send me over an edge into a fast-moving river of people who consoled my loneliness as long as they were people and I was with them and I was a person with people and we were doing something that people do with other people.
But like I said, I learned a little differently. To crave solitude and the quiet usefulness of wandering alone and uninhibited through great crowds of people.
I took a plane, two planes, four planes, two layovers, to and from Florida. I took these planes alone, in jeans and a white t-shirt and sandals and a little gold necklace belonging to my mother.
I was visiting two friends.
By generous gift of a wonderful woman, I was treated to a week in Florida with two people who are dearer to me than mostly anything in the whole world. The minute I ran into their arms, everything unpleasant got less unpleasant. Huge release.
We went to the beach, to breakfast, to drag night, to a club, and to a confusing delicious restaurant that served nothing but appetizers. During the day, we did Disney.
These two friends of mine were working like mad, dancing their faces off in the stifling heat of the parks, and I was left with most of most days to walk about alone in these gigantic terrariums.
I was in Disneyworld for a week. It was really hot and really overstuffed with people wandering determinedly in and out of lines and stores, enjoying the bajillions of dollars per family they'd shelled out to dream the dream. I was there for free, beyond giant Mickey-shaped suckers and other food, and felt unpressed for time or experience because of this. I stayed in thin dresses all week and kept my overhumidified shrub of hair held back by a stretchy drugstore headband. Each morning I would have breakfast with Bryant, having slept astoundingly well, and then we would head to one of various parks. We'd part at the gate and I'd have an entire day to do as I pleased.
I milled about the parks, fanning myself with a colorful map of my surroundings. Sweat poured off of me like it did off of everyone else. For some reason, the heat didn't bother me. Every morning was cool again, and while I was warm during the day, it was comforting. It wasn't the killer dry heat of home, but a softer, wetter, enveloping heat that kept me sleepy and smiling for seven days without sunburning me or sucking my energy. I walked slowly for hours, turning brown, sometimes circling the entire park several times without entering one gift shop or ride or attraction, just walking and walking through so many people on my own with nothing but a map in my hand. It was there, in a totally foreign place, with no pressings for time, that I first experienced the deliciousness of being alone. Alone with my thoughts and my ever-fanning wrist, taking a slow gait through thousands of people.
While I still love a good gathering of people, this casual turnaround in my nature allows me to crawl out onto my roof with myself and a quilt and the radio, and to study in the library, alone for hours, on a date with my brain. And while those two things may sound like things you already do, or are good at, they are new for me and I marvel at them every day.
Happy New Year you guys.