Maybe you heard it from me or perhaps figured it out on your own, but in case you hadn’t heard, my engagement (and relationship) ended about a month ago. I’m still getting my head around some of it, but I’m taking comfort knowing this was very much the right thing in the long-run.
The good part: While I have my good and bad days, I’m feeling a little more like myself every day.
The best part: I’m continually reminded that I have an amazing support system of family, friends, and co-workers. My future will be a little different, but I have a renewed sense of endless possibility and complete readiness for a change-up.
Walt Whitman on happiness: An unexpected source of comfort
Walt Whitman once wrote, “Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.”
I first read Whitman and came across this verse in college. His realist approach hit home with me; it was the first time I truly understood poetry. I came across this verse again, maybe 2-3 weeks ago. It’s posted on a bulletin board just outside the elevator bay on my floor at work. I’m not sure how long it’s been there, but for whatever reason, I noticed it when I did. It’s especially poignant as of late and has been a source of comfort, giving me a sense of direction I need.
Post-breakup, it’s been tough feeling comfortable in my home. My beloved home. A house I put a lot of time, energy, and love into to make it my place of respite. A house I put a lot of time, energy, and love into to make it OUR home. Almost suddenly, the comfort my home once brought me has been replaced with pain and unfamiliarity – I didn’t feel welcome in it anymore. Even my Nordeast neighborhood I cherish so deeply seemed oddly tainted. So I started to avoid it all. But that Whitman verse has surprisingly helped me.
That verse reminded me that I need to take time to reclaim that space as my own. So I’ve been forcing myself to stay in that place…this place as Whitman refers to it, because it’s the foundation where a lot of my happiness stems from. I need to get my house back to being my home. In other words, I’ve been intentionally spending time at my house – more than usual. It’s been uncomfortable (and at times painful), but my house, this place, is feeling like home again.
Traveling to new places brings me nearly as much happiness as my home does, and I’m feeling ready to go to that place. But this time I’ll be heading out on my own for a quick getaway.
The joy of traveling solo
Occasionally, I really crave a solo trip. My first one was when I was 22. I worked my ass off for the summer after graduating college, saving up as much money as I could before heading on a three-month backpacking trek across Western Europe. It was an amazing experience, seeing so many things I’d read about, meeting new people, eating new food, and learning a lot about myself. I came home completely understanding the cliche about “finding myself.” Navigating the differing languages, terrain, and cultures of 10+ countries made me better, stronger, more confident. It was SO empowering.
Over the years, the only “requisite” I’ve found for traveling alone is being able to be comfortable with your own thoughts. When you travel by yourself, you can’t rely on having someone to talk to every day. While I found it easy to meet people, nearly 50% of my time was time spent on my own. It was frightening at first. I didn’t feel like I had a lot to “say”; the first few days were me whining about how lonely I was, going through the motions of doing and seeing stuff, with intermittent ramblings of something like “whoa, it’s a van Gogh – in person!” It took me being in a medieval town in Germany to finally snap out of it – everyone I knew and loved was doing the “same old thing” back home. I had this chance to see the world, so it was time to stop bitching and start experiencing. So yeah, traveling alone took some adjusting, but it’s now second nature to me and has become something I occasionally need. It’s become my reset button and chance to gain new perspectives.
A good part of traveling solo: You will meet someone, likely who you’ll forever be connected to in some wonderful way.
The best part: You get to be selfish and do everything you want – on your own terms. How often do you get to do that in life?
Off to North Carolina!
So this weekend, I’m heading to North Carolina. (I’ve already been upgraded to First Class!) I’ve had this on my list for a while, mainly to check out the Biltmore Estate and drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. I could never find someone to go with me, and since I had some airline credits to use, I decided this little combo of a road trip and history lesson would be perfect.
About the Biltmore Estate: It was built on 8,000 acres in the late 1800s by the Vanderbilt family. Today it’s the largest privately-owned home is the U.S. at nearly 180,000 square feet. I’ve heard that the garden is incredible and the vineyard is worth checking out. Bummer, right?
The scenic, 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway brings you along the eastern edge of the Smoky Mountains. It starts in western Virginia and takes you south before ending in western North Carolina. I’ll head north, driving a little more than half of it. Per usual, you can expect a recap of what I see along the way, complete with pictures.
The other part of Whitman’s wisdom
The second part of Whitman’s verse is about taking time to focus on this hour. I feel like that’s been what this entire past month has been about: being present. Rather than focusing on the future (which comes naturally to me), I’ve been taking time to focus on what I’m going through and feeling now. I’m definitely not yet out of the woods, but I do have a sense of relief and genuine excitement about what’s ahead.
I’ve always said that when I look at my life, it’s a sundae. And I love sundaes. Meeting him added some sprinkles to it. While my sundae doesn’t have sprinkles anymore, it’s still a sundae. Maybe I’ll find some sprinkles for it again; maybe I won’t. But I still have a great fucking sundae.