When an irresistible LivingSocial deal landed in my inbox in April, I knew it was a sign: $499 5 days/ 4 nights for 2 to the Grand Lucayan Resort on Grand Bahama Island. (Including breakfast daily AND a bottle of bubbly and strawberries upon arrival!)”Word!?”, I thought to myself. All I had to do was find a travel buddy and I would be set. I took inventory of a few of my girlfriends but conflicts knocked my travel buddy options off the table one by one. I sat with the choice to either lose this magnificent deal because I couldn’t find anyone to go with or simply go alone.
I chose the latter.
I wasn’t concerned about going alone. I’m an only child, aka a natural independent adventurist. What did concern me though was having all of that time to myself. These days if I’m not working my day job for 10-plus hours or up until the wee hours of the morning doing Friends of Ebonie work, I’m probably using what hours I have left to have a drink with friends and sleep. The time to really sit, think, process and plan aren’t available. But on this solo vacation I would have 120 hours to do nothing but think. Eek! And then there was this small thing about the perception of me going on a tropical vacation by myself. How often to you hear young women say they are going to a tropical island to be sexy in the sun- alone? Surely there are a gaggle of girlfriends in tow or a hott sexy man to complement her trip. For me there was neither. There was just me. How pitiful was that?
As I got closer to my departure date, life and work became increasingly stressful. I began to look forward to my ‘me trip’ for more than just a fun getaway- I needed it to decompress. Get away from it all before I exploded. Perhaps lots of time to process life wasn’t going to be as scary as thought?
An excerpt from my journal:
Wednesday May 23, 2012
Tomorrow begins my solo vacay and I honestly have no idea what to expect. I mean it’s just me so I’m not sure if I need to expect anything. The idea of it just being me is as much exciting as it is nerve-racking. Kelly reminded me not to get Natalie Holloway’d so I guess that’s as much of a good luck and be safe as I need…..
I arrived to the island on Thursday to the downpour of hurricane rain. Stuck inside I did what came naturally to me, I started talking to the only other black woman I saw. I learned in our first 2 minutes of chatting she too was on a solo vacation. Yay! However, her need for solace was a little different. “I lost my mother, my best friend, six weeks ago,” she began to tell me. “Friends asked me if I was crazy to come out here alone but I needed this trip- for me”, she told me. And there it was. I wasn’t on this island alone. God had already started to align me with people seeking some of the same peace I was.
Friday May 25, 2012 5:03pm
I did it! I rode my first mopehead today! Yes, ME! The feeling I got from being on the open country road, letting go of the fear of falling was just !!!!!. For the first time I think ever, I took control without being afraid and I rode freely. Talk about this being a lesson for my life……Well the sun has cooled off a bit and l just can’t get away from all this beautiful ocean so I’m going to take a nap right here on the beach. Ahhhh…..
By the time Saturday came I was high on life. It was as if I was having an outer body experience. I just moved, as I felt compelled- be it sleeping, eating, wandering on the beach or simply laying out in the sun for hours. I was having the time of my life- uninterrupted.
Saturday May 26, 2012 3:34pm
OMGeee!!! Guess what I just did? I took a nap smack in the middle of the ocean! No, like for real. I was floating on my back, just staring into the sky. I found faces amid the puffs of white cotton balls. I could hear the words of my father, “Ebonie you’ll float if you just let go. I have you. I won’t let you drown.” And as I floated right there in the middle of the Atlantic, I felt the presence of my father holding me up. Holding me just as he’d done over twenty years ago when he first taught me to float- and I just let go and drifted off to sleep.…
There was the second of many lessons I would come to learn on my solo vacation: Really Letting Go and Letting God. The rest of my journal entry went on to acknowledge the double entendre of that experience. While faithful, I sometimes try and call the shots without letting God do his best work. The feeling I got from just being and trusting in a mass of water that could easily swallow me was life changing.
Sunday May 27, 2012 9:34pm
Sigh. I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m not happy about this. This trip has been everything. I may have traveled with a party of one but I was never alone. There was God, the resort friends I met (who coincidentally got the SAME Livingsocial deal) , the hotel staff and of course there was me. Being by myself, I’m never really alone……Before I sit here and cry, let me get moving. The two girls I met yesterday from NY are waiting for me! Dinner time!!!…
By the time I returned stateside, my instagram (and twitter) timeline was filled with highlights from my trip. (Using the wifi service NOT data service!) What started as this big ‘secret’ voyage, was no more! I wanted to scream from the rooftops that: I WENT ON A SOLO VACATION AND IT WAS THE BEST DECISION EVER!
The trip was such a defining moment in my life. I discovered that I am more of a conqueror than I’ve been giving myself credit for. I also was able to reconcile a few personal things that have been weighing heavy on my heart. Mostly though, I was able to take some time with God, one-on-one and through His beautiful landscape. Times like that don’t happen often. It was…refreshing. (I also won a few dollars at the casino but hey, who’s counting?!)
Folks have told me I’m brave, adventurous and bold for taking such a trip. But honestly, I just did what I needed to do for me. With life moving so fast, we have to take time for just ourselves. Far away from the noise and close enough to that which is greater than us. We must discover the clarity for the most important things in our lives. If we aren’t our best selves to ourselves then we can’t be our best in life or to others.
LivingSocial and Groupon have vacation escape deals galore! If the beach isn’t your thing, get one for a nature trail or skiing- whatever you love to do! Take your solo vacation! You owe it to yourself. It will change your life.