Table for One

Two months and ten days. That’s how long I’ve been in London. It still feels surreal at moments. Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Definitely not a “typical” one for me. This morning I rented a car and ran away for the weekend. Mostly because I’ve done two big papers back to back and NEED to get away from my room, desk and the library. I’m making plans for Christmas. Stay tuned for those shenanigans.

So the car…It’s okay. I didn’t crash or hit anything. Even though they drive on the wrong side of the road. And even though I was driving a manual left handed. Though the reverse gear is a little persnickety.

Anyway. I’m traveling solo and learning to embrace it. I am growing accustomed to the quick (and sometimes funny) ways people cover when I walk into a restaurant and ask for a table for one. Apparently its not terribly common….who knew? *insert slight sarcasm here*

Last week I sat in a restaurant in London and read Dante. No joke. (Don’t give me that look, Mom.) Today I purposefully chose restaurants that looked cozy, included fireplaces and this time I left my books in my BnB.

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Tomorrow I’m going on a foodie tour all by myself (I know, no surprise there). Thanks to my sweet ride I was able to stop in the random perfectly quaint medieval town of Burford and explore to my hearts content – which means peeping all the stores, taking pictures, and standing inside an empty 1000 year old church and singing all to myself.

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Tonight I had dinner in the oldest inn in England – circa 947 AD – carbon dated no less! 🙂 Apparently its been a lot of things in the intervening centuries, some of them not quite so reputable!

As I sat at my table the dining room slowly filled with couples and dinner parties. At my little table for one I enjoyed a delicious dinner with a side of people watching. It’s one thing to work alone or go through my daily routine alone – getting the daily stuff done is just that, routine. There’s a grove to it. Traveling alone is different. I can’t take pictures while driving without stopping, which is a tad inconvenient when I see funny/unique things whiz by and I have traffic behind me. I have to pay a bit more attention to the GPS because I don’t have a co-pilot. But there’s a space to savor that is quintessentially different and hard to describe. Solo travel is more reflective. Since there is no one to talk to you process your experiences differently.

Do I want to share a MILLION things with people. YES! Like the Crocodile World sign I saw today…???…Crocodiles…in England? And thanks to the wonders of technology I can snap pics and text them to friends, post them to Instagram and Facebook, and post them here. (Sadly I don’t have pictures of the Crocodile sign because like I said, driving + traffic.)

The moments are my solo experience and I decide what is shared. Which is a pretty powerful ability. So I think for now I’ll take a table for one. It pushes me to experience the world differently. It’s still awkward. But I think it is good for me. Plus, it means I’ll be able to keep cherishing moments like this…..

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Some Kind of Miracle

Two posts in a week!

Who is this person?

This person is working on a research paper and wants…nay- NEEDS – to think about something else…anything else.

I went for a walk earlier today. Ostensibly to clear my head, as I’d finally finished all my background reading and had composed my introduction. In reality, I just needed to get on my feet and off my posterior and MOVE!

Found this little beauty.

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I went where I am wont to go when I need mental space and fresh air. I went to a park. Specifically I went to Windsor Great Park – which if you caught my life video on Facebook, I’m sorry. It was an experiment. *shrug*

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Windsor Great Park truly is great. Not just because it is large. Not just because it is attached to Windsor Castle. Not just because it has a beautiful lake, gorgeous gardens or miles and miles of trails. I’ve only managed to explore a tiny corner of the park thus far. Every time I go I kick myself for not visiting more often, especially considering it takes me 12 minutes to walk there. I know. I timed it.

This evening it dawned on me, while making dinner, why I don’t go more often to a place I clearly enjoy so much once I’m there.

As much as I enjoy the park, I dislike going alone. I went today out of the sheer desperation to just move and be outside and breathe fresh air. But my realization clued me in to the fact that not only have I been isolated due to focusing on work – which is totally reasonable to a point – but I’m isolated because I don’t have the kind of friendships here where I can just call people up, send a text or stop by their place and do something fun on the fly.  I don’t have the kind of social structure where regular weekly intervals of solid people time are built in. In short…I’m legit lonely.

Being the extrovert that I am, lonely is a rough spot to be. Per my last post, vulnerability is scary. Owning up and saying I’m lonely and asking people to help me do something about it (to at least make them aware) feels desperate. It’s not the sort of problem that solves itself overnight. In fact, the only real solution (sort of some kind of miracle) is probably patience and time. Patience with the process of building authentic connections. The miracle will happen but occasionally it takes a little time.

In the meantime, I have to remind myself to get out and go smell the roses.

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