I stood, lost in thought at the taco counter in Pest.
“Are you OK?” asked the young man at the counter, in English seeping with a beautiful Hungarian accent.
I jogged back into the moment.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, grabbing my metal tray containing a junior burrito and large beer. “Just thinking.”
And I left it at that.
The truth was, I was OK. But, only kindasortanotreallymaybe.
In the past month of traveling, there was only 48 or less hours of being completely alone. Solo.
I am a big advocate of solo traveling. I love it. I would recommend it to anyone.
As a solo traveler, you have the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.
It is what afforded me the opportunity to decide to go to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, to participate in two VaughanTown programs, head to Toledo and Segovia at a moments notice and just do whatever it was I wanted. It is also what afforded me the opportunity to meet the people I ended up spending most of my time with the past month, namely Anthony.
The thing is, leaving Anthony and the comfort of having friends is also a downside of traveling.
There are those moments, alone in a big new city (Budapest), when all you want to do is turn to someone and tell them you are frustrated, or tired, or wish your hostel would answer the phone, but they won’t, so now you have to find another one and damn it all, you just want to put your bag down and chill.
It’s the same every time. You meet people. You travel with people. You say your “see you soons” and then you head off.
There is 24, or 36 or 48 hours where you are once again solo. The first few moments, barring unforseen circumstances (like not having your hostel even though you booked it), are bliss. It is nice to be alone. To gather your thoughts. To think about what you want to do next.
Then, there are the moments after that. Once you have done your thinking and moved on to the moment you are actually in. Those are the hardest for me.
My first day in Pest, I decided to take a walk through the town and head to the baths. It was a nice experience, dipping my body into thermal pools of varied temperatures, watching other people interact, but there were times I found myself longing for someone to share the moment with … to make it last a little longer.
Then, later in the evening, I decided to go and explore some of the local bars. They were cool, and I grabbed a drink in two of them, but again, I really wanted someone to talk to.
Fortunately, traveling solo also means it won’t be long until I meet someone like Anthony, or Emma or Abbey or Tina (or any of the other phenomenal people I have met) again.
Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” explains this ridiculously eloquently. She is harassed by Lonely and Depression following her arrival in Italy. They tear at her until finally, she waves them off.
It isn’t always easy, but I know if I can keep moving, eventually those two beasts subside and give way to Bliss and Happy.
It’s just a matter of time. And patience.