Traveling On My Own

I recently received the news from a good friend of mine that her husband passed away unexpectedly. It was a shock, as many deaths are, and I was anxious to find a way to help. As she lives in Colorado, being there for her wasn’t as easy as I would’ve liked. I considered hoping in the car and driving out there but it’s a 24 hour drive without stops so that was a little problematic.

After talking to a couple of mutual friends, a plan was hatched.  We were going to fly out and comfort our friend together.  We all live in different states so we spent a couple of days figuring out the timing of flights as well as hotel and car rental accommodations.  For the first time, at 47 years old, I am going to travel all on my own!

I consider myself a planner. It’s a role my friends and family have designated for me and I don’t mind. I enjoy figuring out logistics and having everything organized.  But this was a bit out of the norm for me.  I have flown many times, but it’s always been arranged by a travel agent or someone else.  This was the first time I’ve ever had to figure it all out on my own.  And in today’s COVID world there are a lot of extra things to keep in mind. But it was VERY important to me to be there for my friend and do whatever I could to support her.

I started looking at options and was immediately overwhelmed!  The closest airport to me is about 1.5 hours away but from there to Denver would require a lengthy layover in Atlanta, Minneapolis or Dallas! Or a flight leaving at 1:30am.  And it was several hundred dollars more expensive. None of those options made sense to me so I was stuck with the next closest airport, 3 hours away!  I was able to book a flight through Priceline (another first for me) on Frontier Airlines (never even heard of them) that was nonstop.

When I booked the flight I wasn’t given an option of picking my seat or adding any baggage options.  I have to tell you I was pretty nervous and just praying this whole thing was legit!  It felt pretty sketchy to me!  I was VERY relieved when I got my email confirmation and a link that allowed to be choose my seats and other options.  I’ve since discovered Frontier is a newer airline that offers “economy” tickets while allowing you to pay for extras if you want them.  So no free snacks or movies on this flight.  But I did score a window seat one flight and an aisle on the other.  And both are in an extra roomy row.

Did I mention that I haven’t actually MET 2 of these friends before in person? Our group of 5 has known each other for over 22 years now.  We met wayyyy back when AOL chat rooms were a thing.  We were all stay at home moms back then and have been though so much together.  Births, moves, graduations, new jobs, bad hair styles, natural disasters, loss of parents, weddings, grandkids and unfortunately now losing a spouse. Our technology has changed but we’ve stayed in touch all these years.  Like modern day pen pals. (I feel like this could make a good book!) 

So I am about to set off on quite the adventure. Is it strange that I feel accomplished and proud to be doing this by myself? I’m driving myself to the airport, navigating parking and the terminal on my own. Landing somewhere completely new to me, hopping in a car with 2 “strangers” and heading off to meet a third.  I wish it were under better circumstances and that the last member of our group could be there too.  But one day we will meet up again for something fun.  And I will know exactly how to make my own arrangements!


Where to go from here?

My last blog post was 2.5 month ago.  Back then I was frustrated and trying to come to term with my emotions after 3 weeks of “lock down”.  3 weeks. NEVER did I imagine it would turn out to be a 3 MONTH shut down!  And we aren’t fully open or out of the woods yet.

I’ve been struggling with what to write about. There is so much to say, but so many great articles out there by people far more talented than I. I’m not an expert on grief, depression, or anger and I would never want to presume to give advice about those topics. There has been PLENTY of material out there for that type of reading.

My blog is not a “diary” style blog.  I don’t post about my day to day life and all the little details of what I’ve been up to,  I don’t rant or share my opinions about every topic, that’s what Facebook is for. I like to make posts once a week or so about interesting places I’ve been, new recipes I’ve tried, things I’m discovering about myself.

After 3 months of essentially being cooped up there wasn’t much of interest to talk about. If only I had been one of those people who used that time to their advantage. I didn’t learn a new language or take up a new hobby. I didn’t become a master chef or fitness guru.  I didn’t tackle any big home improvement projects or renovations. I didn’t write a book or even as you can see, keep up my blog.

There WERE some milestones along the way. I grieved the one year loss of my mom. I celebrated the arrival of my first grandchild. I mourned the passing of my father in law. I marveled at the fact that we have been doing this empty nest thing for a whole year already.  But writing about those things felt overwhelming.  How do I go about talking about those small,personal things while ignoring the BIG picture. It’s like there was this giant COVID cloud hanging over me every single day.  And every week that went by without a post it just grew more daunting, too much to tackle.  I just didn’t have the energy to try.

Life is looking up though. I’m back to volunteering and seeing my friends. Summer weather is here and I’m enjoying my garden and our local beaches. It’s time to get back to my blogging. While I can’t ignore what is going on in the world, I’ve come to the decision that the only way to get on with my blog is to let someone else write about the pandemic and protests and politics.  You can’t open social media or turn on the TV these days without being bombarded with this stuff!  I’m going to stick to my stuff. I’m simply going to be ME.

Empty nester, proud Michigander, amateur photographer, occasional blogger, wife, mom and now, Gram. Someone who is actively trying to better herself, enjoy life, be grateful for my blessings and give back to my community. I hope you’ll stick around and take the journey with me.

I have lots of ideas for upcoming blog posts.  Stay tuned, I’ve missed you.