“Don’t you get lonely?”
“No, Mom. Not at all,” I paused.
I quickly regretted telling the truth. My mother–who I adore–would surely remember the vulnerability I just exposed every time I boarded a plane in the future, peppering me with questions about loneliness.
Sigh. Mom was still the master. Would I ever learn?
* * *
The trip had been a long one. Two days started when the alarm sounded at 5:30 am. I am not a morning person.
On this trip, I spent one day in particular feeling out of sorts. I didn’t know what constituted appropriate attire for this work event and ultimately, I chose wrong. Worse, my clothes seemed too tight. I didn’t like what I saw each time I caught sight of my reflection.
I felt old. And I was in fact older than some of the colleagues in attendance. Some of them were of the smug married variety in spite of being younger than me.
Self doubt had me squirming for a good five hours straight. I couldn’t wait to be alone with no one looking at my dumb outfit or my bad hair day.
When the event ended, I was free to head back to my hotel. But soon after I got in my rental car, I took a detour.
I drove due west until I arrived at cliffs overlooking the Pacific coast.
I watched surfers wriggle into full wet suits and then climb down the cliff side carrying surfboards to the rocky beach below. I watched the sky and the clouds and the waves. For fifteen or twenty minutes, I sat on a jersey barrier and absorbed this place I hadn’t seen before. In my many trips to San Francisco, how had I never made it to the Pacific side of the peninsula?
I gathered my thoughts and felt like myself again. A better version of me. I got back to the grateful place I usually inhabit on these trips of mine.
And then I got back in the car and finished my drive. I had a full day of meetings starting the next morning.