My path took me to Canada for New Year’s Eve/Day.
Everything I do is often so planned and thought out. I am a planner by nature, and planning things makes me feel comfortable and in control of details as much as I can be. I’m not the best or most experienced traveler. Most travel I’ve done has been on someone else’s dime. When I was an event planner I had to travel several times a year. And in relationships I’ve been in, men have taken me to this place or that. Or I go to visit people at a particular destination by car or plane. But I’ve never just gone somewhere, anywhere, where I’ve never been, with little planning beforehand and no real plan of what I’ll do when I get there.
I intended to just stay in and write, and enjoy my solitude in a way that being at home alone doesn’t allow. At home, I feel lonely when I’m alone. I miss my son, I miss having company. I feel compelled in my anxiety to clean, to restore order, to do laundry, to cook and store food. Dishes, laundry, grocery. Dishes, laundry, grocery. Fuck it.
So I took off.
I did a little, and I mean very little, online reconnaissance before coming here. My original idea was to stay somewhere on Lake Erie, stateside, and then that led me around Lake Erie to Canada, where the exchange rate is pretty good and my dollar would go a little farther. I thought about going to Leamington, a quiet little town my family vacationed in every year growing up. I took my son there some years ago and so much has changed. The Walmartization of even small, sleepy towns is such a tragedy, with generic big box stores, chain restaurants and check cashing places everywhere signaling the race to the bottom is in progress.
We used to stay in this little motel every year, just a dumpy motor in. We’d get the suite with the kitchenette so my Mom could fix some of our meals there and save us the money of going out for every meal. It was in the shadow of the Heinz factory. My sister and I would wake up on summer vacation mornings and sit outside the hotel door, which we’d prop open with a shoe, while my parents slept in. We’d play jacks and cards on the sidewalk outside the room, and then we’d hear the loud horn signaling the start of the work day at the factory – you could hear it all over town but it was especially loud where we were – and we’d know it was time to start waking the parents up. The smell of tomatoes would permeate the air as we set out to the beach or the ice cream shop or to visit nearby towns and go shopping. It wasn’t exciting, it wasn’t flashy. But I loved it.
I bypassed Leamington and kept searching, and found a wonderful looking Inn that I felt compelled to visit. And so here I am, in London, Ontario.
Met amazing people last night at a wine bar I selected for dinner in all of 30 seconds of looking for some place online I could get something to eat before it got too busy with couples. The owner was as foul-mouthed as me and we sat and shot the shit for a good hour about the industry, about Cleveland, where he’s been many times, about how he built this wine bar because his wife said there was no comfortable place for her and her girlfriends to drink wine and hang out, and we decided wine bars are the female equivalent of the sports bar. He’s made so much profit in the three years he’s been open that he’s opening a second place in 2016, and I couldn’t be happier for him. The bartender, a young, pretty girl, encouraged me to go downtown where there was a big party. She wrote a short list of places I should go, and said I should pick up a young man and take him to my hotel, that it would be packed with men who would be dying to meet and talk to someone like me, that I had such a fun and cool manner and was so pretty that I’d have my pick of dates. Aww. That was really sweet. Especially since she appeared to be maybe 24.
The couple behind me, a little older than me, engaged me in conversation and urged me to join them at their table when I was done. Their adult daughter was having a party and they really begged me to come with them to the party, saying what a fabulous time I would have and how there would be a lot of wonderful people to meet, and said I could spend the night at the daughter’s place if I wanted. It was overwhelming and had the potential to be many things, but instead I just graciously thanked them for the enjoyable conversation, we toasted the new year and I went on my merry way back to my lodging. I felt so welcomed, liked, appreciated, engaged and in touch with humanity, I was really glad I went.
Right now the snow is coming down outside my window and I feel very cozy and warm, if a bit hungover, which is how it should be on New Year’s Day if you ask me.
I realize that I don’t know where my path leads this year. But I am really, fully and completely open to the adventures that await me. I’ve let go of some of the control with making this trip and have thrown caution to the wind, and so far, the stretch out of my comfort zone feels good.
Where is your path taking you in 2016? I hope our paths cross, my friends.