Tonight I am in a hotel room alone. I am typing this from a king-sized bed I have all to myself. The room is quiet except for the traffic on the interstate outside the window. I don’t have the TV on, and I have cranked the air conditioning down as low as I want.
I am traveling by myself, which is unusual for me, and last night when I got here, I still had a few hours before my typical summer bedtime. I wandered outside in the perfect evening warmth of a summer night, watching a particularly fine sunset streak the sky pink over the interstate. I walked around the perimeter, just to see what was there, and I breathed in the soft air.
Inside, I walked around the lobby and the halls, peering into the fitness room and moving carefully around the pool. It was noisy in there, and wet foot prints dribbled from the door and into the elevator and down the hall to the vending machine, where I bought my bottle of water. Too much happy noise made me miss my family, who are absolutely the most fun in a hotel.
Still, I felt grateful, tucked away in my room under the covers with a stack of books and a video playing on the computer. Solitude is the name of the game here, and sometimes my soul just can’t drink enough of it. I stayed up way too late reading good books, and I got up way too early so I could eat a quiet breakfast in bed.
Could I do all these things at home? Yes. Would I do them? I don’t, at least not consistently. I might glance out a window to catch a glimpse of the twilight sky while running the vacuum or rushing people into the bath. I might read for a while, but my thoughts would be scattered by people wanting, and deserving, attention.
Who are you, in a new place, all alone? Up here in my room, I feel more deeply like myself, with only my own whims to follow, and I let myself take up all the space I want and need. I follow thoughts to their conclusion and chase my imagination down rabbit trails. I take out my notebook and write, and I practice large, loopy letters on a fresh page. I am content and happy.
Travel does this. It lets you escape from yourself and pulls you into yourself more fully, and it allows you the chance to remember who you are.