A Guiding Force

Traveling alone is something I have seen a lot about online, the benefits, the horrors, but for me it has never been that different than being back home. I find people to connect to, I wander the cities alone, I think about people I know and have lost, usually when I find something they would like.

When I traveled with the right person, the ones who suit my personality, and who like to wander through towns eating street food and looking at whatever catches our eye, it’s been amazing. So far, it has always been one person with me. The Dancer, the Committee, the Diplomat, and the Herald, mostly. I’ve been to places with many other people, alone and in groups, and had amazing conversations, but there is something more to traveling, especially when things fall apart.

The trip to Six Flags with the Dancer, when it was closed that day. She was amazed I wasn’t angry. That kind of surprise never bothers me that much, oddly enough, and that day is one of my favorite memories. Driving up the volcano in Colima with the Diplomat, looking ahead and telling him I was cool with heading back. A great day, ending with a bang. The Prince of Peace with the Herald, wandering the grounds and feeling the peace of the monastery. Too many trips with the Committee to count, and the memories all fight to be center stage.

I love being around people, hearing their stories and their goals, but travel is something more. The balance of silence and conversation, the ability to wander alone and find your way back later. There are too few people in this world that I could travel with for long periods of time. I have never met someone who I didn’t find interesting, for at least a couple of hours. I think that’s one of the things that defines who I am, that I would rather be alone than be with people I didn’t really want to be with.

I hate tours because of the number of people that have to be catered to and the limits placed on where you can go and what you can do. I hate spending too many days in a row with most people, simply because they run out of interesting things to say and do. Most people spend their lives seeking comfort, and I can’t blame them. I did that for a long time, but it was never really satisfying. Comfort is boring, and it can disappear so quickly.

In Mexico, I found more people than I have here because I had less of a language barrier. I’m getting better, but I wonder if my ability to speak Mandarin is good enough to start with the language exchanges. There is always a fear in meeting new people, in dealing with people I may not want to be around. A fear that is almost always wrong, but social anxiety never really goes away.

I wonder if that guides me without my being completely aware of it. When I feel it, it’s like a tether holding me to the familiar. Like a dog on a leash, the harder I pull the more I feel it. But it can be so subtle, like when I think I should talk to someone, to go further with the conversation, and see where it goes, but then I have dinner instead.

There is a joy in being alone. Freedom. Peace. There are times when it’s lonely also, but that’s rarely more than a fleeting desire, to share something I found with the right person. Sometimes it’s simply boredom, my mind looking for someone to entertain me. Mostly, I’m just alone, and usually, that’s a wonderful thing.

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