My personal Christmas Tree with a travel theme. I am ready to get on the move in 2017. By the way, the "L" is for my nickname, La La formerly Ooh LaLa
Any birthday with a “0,” after your 20’s is a big deal. Or at least some people feel that way. My 40th seemed like it was significant enough to do something grander than usual. That was the general idea that was tossed about in the start of the year; doing something as monumental as the number with family, friends and loved ones; a trip with my sister; doing a group fortieth trip with my group of high school friends. I had already had plans for how I wanted to spend my actual birthday with my boyfriend; the rest would be a bonus. A trip with my sister had been on the fringe because of her own family vacation and work obligations. I wasn’t going to press it. Plus, later in the year, it looked as though our girl’s trip to Cape Cod would be a nice alternative, even with my niece along for the ride. With my high school friends, I had lost my momentum trying to galvanize the large group for a suggestion. Planning a trip for over 5 adults is difficult when everyone has their own agenda and families. This person likes to do this, that person doesn’t like to do that, that one doesn’t like the beach, and you don’t want to spend X amount of dollars because of (fill in the blank). Finding a happy medium no longer seemed worth the energy. Eventually, I gave up on that idea too.
Months passed after my birthday and life unfurled upon me with a furry in August. The urge and need to get away for a multitude of reasons, besides celebrating my big 40th, kept pulling me to seriously reconsider a getaway. The trip to Myrtle Beach was great and served its purpose at the time, and the other mini travels had been helpful, but I needed something distinctively different, more than anything I had experienced this year. Originally, I thought considering my obvious depleted emotional state, I could get a sympathizing soul to find some way to make whatever this trip was going to be, with me. But in the end, as I continued to process how I was feeling and what I wanted from the trip, I could see it was asking too much of others. The more I tried to negotiate my emotions and feelings of grief and loss, the more I recognized that a solo trip was the ONLY option. Even when my “soul mate” friend had asked about waiting a few months so she could go, I ended up turning her down. I knew that for my own sake, I needed to go by myself and as soon as possible. Around Thanksgiving, I became absolutely firm on this plan and began to scour the web daily for the ideal destination. I didn’t have an exact location in mind, and I wasn’t concerned about a budget. The turnaround was going to be short and I understood that vacations booked within a month are going to be costly, especially if I travel at the high peak of the Christmas holiday. What I wanted was pretty simple: I wanted major R & R; I wanted to take a smaller suitcase filled with as many bathing suits as clothes; I wanted a place that I had never been; I wanted a place that I could sit under the sun in silence and start to heal; I wanted a place that required no pockets and served drinks.
While I had this simplistic idea in mind that featured no pockets, it made sense to consider an all-inclusive trip. However, when I looked at the options of the place that was at the top of my list, my “no budget” budget freaked out a smidge. How much was I really going to eat and drink? I read a few recent reviews of the top contender and a significant number of people stated that there were plenty of other tastier and cheaper dining options right outside of the property. I went along with the voice of the people and no longer considered all-inclusive a viable option if I did choose to select this place, since it was already pretty expensive. My stress levels became elevated because I wanted to pick a good place without all the second-guessing and I was running out of time. It was when I came across this one particular photo looking through the gallery that I knew this was indeed the place. In the background was water a shade of teal I had not seen before. In the immediate foreground was a delectable pizza with fresh arugula and prosciutto, placed next to a galvanized steel bucket, with cold bottles of beers poking their necks out, all under a palapa. Yaas! That’s what I am talking about. We all know I have an unusual fondness for pizza, but we all like what we like and I am not ashamed. If I am going to spend my hard earned bucks, I am going to try get exactly what I want. I made one last search on the web, only to compare the total price of the lodging and airfare on different travel sights. What I had found was the going price, give or take a few dollars. All that was left was to choose from the selected flights and I hit the return button to submit my payment and my itinerary was emailed to me in minutes. I was doing this.
Thankfully, we were at our busy time at work and I also now had something to look forward to before Christmas. These 2016 holidays, in my opinion, could suck it and the sooner they are finished and over with, the better off I will be. Thanksgiving was difficult without my grandmother and my ex-boyfriend. Christmas and New Years were going to be just as difficult because all I was going to think about was that this was another first in my life, another holiday that my grandmother was not present for and how this was the new normal. It was also going to be difficult because it was only last year that my ex-boyfriend spent Christmas with just my parents and I at the house in his pajama pants sitting, unwrapping gifts and New Years at my sister’s, delighted by the lamb chops my brother-in-law made for dinner. Briefly, I had entertained the thought of scheduling my trip through Christmas to avoid the remaining holidays. But I thought about how much quieter my parent’s house would be without me and only because of that reason, I decided to come back the night before Christmas Eve.
When I began to tell a few friends and family about my upcoming trip, the follow up question was, “Who are you going with?” At least 2 out of 3 people responded with surprise and questions. “You are going by yourself?” The ones that were the closest to me and knew how down I had been thought it was a great idea and didn’t question my choice and although I didn’t need it, I appreciated their support. They understood that it was an act of self-care, a positive step towards mending my heart and soul. As a traveler flying solo, I could be free to do whatever, whenever I wanted, without the concern of anyone else. At this time in my life, my needs and the obligation to myself are the only things that I need to focus on. It was time for me to reflect on what happened and remember who I was before and define who I was going to be from this point on. In only a few short weeks, I would be on my way to Aruba. No pressure Aruba, this is a tall order for you, but I have faith that your crystal clear shores of blue can do miracles. Far away island, you have 6 days and 5 nights to get it done. Fingers crossed.