Being a single person who travels

You have to be prepared to pay a lot. I just rented a car for $354 for four days. Most of that seems to be the cost of insurance. If I had a partner it would be half price. We’d share the cost, right?

I’d also hope that my partner would be someone who knows how car insurance works. Say, the difference between ‘collision waiver’ and ‘liability only’. Or even understands how I paid Expedia for some insurance only to have the Enterprise car rental lady explain to me at pick up that I didn’t have enough and that she couldn’t really tell what I had bought from Expedia. Neither of us knew what was missing in order for me not to be put in jail if pulled over.

It was embarrassing for the both of us: an under-researched consumer and an incompetent sales clerk. Oh dear.

I wish I had a husband who could have cleared it up.

But really, this essay is not an account of how low I am because I lack a husband or partner. I am not at all low about it. I have a wonderful, fulfilling life. I am not one-half of something. I am the something.

But it’s also not an essay of how great I am. Instead, it’s about the feelings I have when I travel alone. It’s a cacophony, these feelings. If you can’t take the feelings, look away now. You’ll never be my husband.

I’m in Acadia National Park in Maine. Just me and a tent and a bag full of food for three days. Plus other happy campers… As I write this, the two families in the plots beside me are getting to know one another. “This is Alice.” / “Hi!” / “We’re going kayaking tomorrow.” / “Oh, that’s on our list too haha!”

That’s because you’re in the woods; of course your lists match, dickhead. I find them insufferable. The small talk. The fake bonding that won’t endure. The identical family formatting.

I’m not just a grouch. I’m not blue—I’m happy. I just get tired of banter and families easily. Of course, there are couples here too—child-free couples, or perhaps they’re just pre-child. They’re ante-child while I’m anti-child.

One man earlier brought something out of the car and checked with his partner if it was the right thing. When she agreed, he said, “I thought so. I just didn’t want to make the decision alone.” Cute! Like a head on a spike.

God knows what the item was. I didn’t want to peer through the trees at them too closely. Was it the dildo she’d fuck him with tonight on a Therm-A-Rest? Or just the variety of trail mix that comes with M&Ms, as opposed to the boring one?

I just sound mean, because I’m in a mood where I don’t want to interact with people. And the idea of having a partner here to have to interact with—to be thinking about their feelings all the time and making sure they’re OK—well, that would be terrible. It doesn’t sound much like a holiday at all.

But on the other hand, it also sounds wonderful to have someone here. I’ve only been in the park, camped, for around four hours but I’ve already had fleeting moments where I’ve pined for this friend or that friend. So-and-so would like this sunset. Or what’s-his-chops would be fun to have around. Or if thingamabob were here, we’d make much more of an effort with the cooking than I’m doing alone.

I’ve even thought—gasp!—that it’d be cool to have a partner. Not just to share the costs. But because, I realised, that you get to do the things you both enjoy—together. I realised this in the supermarket, of course. It was called Shaw’s and it’s in Bangor, Maine. I stocked up on trail mix (without), fresh fruit and crackers. I got to make all the decisions (thank god I got them right). But I did also dream fleetingly of sweeping down the aisles with a partner. In unison, he’d grab the crackers while I’d grab the peanut butter on the opposite side. Beautiful symmetry, in a moment we’d been awaiting for months: our well-earned holiday with no colleagues or family to have to deal with. And we chose this.

This essay does not conclude with the realisation that whether he knows about car insurance or not, I need a partner. No. I do not feel this way. I just took a walk by the beach, dodging the stones thrown out to sea by a competitive family, and I just let my thoughts flow. I could do this. Because I was alone. I am alone here. It’s why I do this—to stay in touch with myself. Corny! Like a group hug in Disneyworld.

I like solitude, or at least the chance to think, alone. I know many relationships don’t have the space for that, and it terrifies me.

For some people, there’s always kayaking on the bloody list.

Why male space elves wear eyeliner and get away with it

Real man: Pointy ears, eyeliner and a ginger beard
Real man: Pointy ears, eyeliner and a ginger beard

Hiking boots make me feel ROAR. In their thick brown leather I am strong and competent and invulnerable. I feel this especially when I wear my boots out of context, like the other day when I stomped around town in them. The boots were too big to fit into my bag so I wore them instead, and it felt great. It’s not often I remember that I’m a man. That’s usually something that just hums along in the background like white noise. But as I stomped to the train station in my hiking boots last week I definitely felt like a man. The main guy in Jupiter Ascending has a pair of man-boots too.

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