Eighteen years ago today, I flew to San Francisco to be by myself. I had to get out of New York.
I was stuck working a rotten job I hated that hated me back. My roommate (and best friend since grammar school) and I had a major falling out that caused me to move out of the apartment we'd shared for two years. (Although I've never experienced a divorce, the loss of this friend sure felt like one; fortunately, we reconciled after the birth of my first daughter.)
Oh, and I was still hung up on a man who hadn't the capacity or the intention of ever loving me back.
I had been making a point to get out and meet new people, but the guys I met didn't do it for me. For the most part, they were decent looking, had good jobs, but they lacked something. To be perfectly honest, I lacked something, too. They were better off without me.
The most recent of these guys worked as a producer at a major network. He did some of the right things: Called when he said he would, showed up when he said he would, and made polite conversation with my parents, whom I'd moved back in with. But the guy drove like a maniac. He also squealed like a psychotic chimp when he lost his car in a parking lot.
I ended the relationship on a Saturday, went back to my cube on Monday, and wanted to kill myself Monday night. At this point, I made a vow: Don't date until you meet someone worthy of dating. Make yourself worthy of someone worthy of dating.
I had started working in earnest with the Law of Attraction about a month before, hanging out in my little brother's room (covered with a mix of posters that included Anthrax, Van Halen, and exercise guru Kathy Smith in a bathing suit) after dinner and writing affirmations while listening to Kate Bush, Tears For Fears, and Simple Minds.
I decided I needed a change of scenery (living in my parents' house facilitated this revelation). Travel had always cleared my head, and I needed clarity. So, one desperate evening after another soul-massacring day in the cube, I stopped at a bookstore and found a travel book on San Francisco. I liked San Francisco. I wanted to go.
But my best friend and I were no longer friends (she and I had been travel companions, having gone to England, Ireland, and Scotland together the year before, and the year before that). I had no boyfriend, and I really didn't feel like advertising for a new companion among neighboring cube dwellers.
I decided to go by myself. The travel book listed a Bed & Breakfast called The Red Victorian Inn on Haight Street, where I could get a room for $75.00 a night (about all I could afford). I called and was booked into the Inn's 'Sunshine Room.' I booked a cheap flight on a crappy airline, which ran out of pillows and lost my luggage on the return flight but managed not to crash.
Staying in a B&B afforded social opportunities I wouldn't have found in a hotel. Because guests ate breakfast together in a common room, I became acquainted with a beautiful South African dancewear designer who worked for Mikhail Baryshnikov. She and I went out to see Baghdad Cafe, an obscure film starring The Shield's CCH Pounder. I had lunch with another woman, who'd recently sold her business in London to travel around the world.
I spent a day by myself, checking out a record store on Haight Street. I went to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. I walked to Union Square, Japantown, and Chinatown. I got lost in the maze that is the Presidio, until I gave into common sense and got a pair of bicyclists to show me the way out.
I didn't meet any fantastic men, but when I came back, I felt different. I had experiences that took the edge off the broken friendship, the romance that would never be, and the tortuous days in the cube.
Travel, for me, is about possibility: I see new things outside me. I see new things inside me. Therefore, I am different.
It sounds corny, but when I came back to New York after four short days, things changed for me. I kept the rotten job, but it got easier, and they offered me more money. Eventually, they kicked me upstairs to a better job which allowed me to travel.
I kept my promise not to date. I wrote my affirmations every single night. In October, I started a dating a guy who's sister promised he'd treat me "like gold," which was strangely appealing. He did treat me like gold, but by Martin Luther King Day, the relationship started to feel like a dress rehearsal for something better. I ended it.
In February, Peter asked me out. We went to Fishtales, a seafood restaurant in Manhasset, on a Wednesday for our first date. We ended up staying out until 3AM, and we've been together ever since. Eleven months after my solo trip to San Francisco, we drove up to Cape Breton Island, off Nova Scotia, where he introduced me to his grandparents.
My life had completely changed.