Crazy

Crazy

I hadn’t decided if I’d lost my mind. I needed time to determine that and so far, there hadn’t been any.

I left Richmond, Virginia, on Thanksgiving and was officially addressless. And single. At 51.

Now I was driving south to the Florida Panhandle with visions of sitting on the beach trying to establish my current state of mind.

I made two stops on the way down to visit relocated friends from a time that seemed forever ago when I think back to being married, while simultaneously feeling like yesterday when I consider how abruptly my boys became men.

I was a child myself when I decided I did not want to live my mother’s life. I didn’t want to be tied down by home, hearth, or children. I wanted to travel the world, I wanted to see places I’d only imagined… with the help of a voracious National Geographic appetite. I wanted to take pictures and write about my travels, like the heiresses living in the early 1900’s. No financial worries and no outside schedule determining where and when I needed to be somewhere.

There was just one problem. I was afraid to travel by myself. I didn’t have enough self-confidence to be sure I could thwart thieves or unwanted advances. What would a young woman just graduating from college do if faced with these challenges while traveling alone? And I wasn’t an heiress; how would I pay for it?

So when a nice young man pursued me to the point of mailing me his key while I was away with my family for the summer, I thought, maybe, he would be the partner who would travel with me. When we decided to get married, I made him promise travel would be a priority.

Before agreeing to having children, I raised concerns about my goals again. He assured me that in a few years he would be making enough money for the family to travel together. I gave up my uncertain career prospects and stayed home to raise kids, swaddled in the comfort that my deferred dreams would pay off when we became tourists together.

Nearly twenty years later, I left him, doltishly realizing that as long as his goals were not the same as mine, what I wanted would never be a priority. While I finished raising our kids, I tried to get on my own two feet. The latter a much bigger challenge than the first due to many reasons. We lived in the Detroit area; the equivalent of ground zero during the housing crash. Again, I deferred my plans.

In that time, I met a man who became my best friend online. Eventually, we met in person and sparks flew. When my young men were ready to live on their own, I moved to Richmond, Virginia, to explore the possibilities. He had two young children that still needed their dad and a professionally demanding career. Before moving in, I let him know of my long deep-seated desire to explore; he needed to know there was a good chance I may move on one day.

“One day” came last Thanksgiving.

I left, not for the jet setting life of a world traveler, but for a camper, a truck, and a somewhat reliable GPS. There is much of the United States I’ve not seen and I didn’t want to repress my desire to explore any longer.  I’m beginning to feel as though I’m running out of time in my sixth decade of life.

When I tell people I left a perfectly good man – one who treated me well – most of them think I’m crazy. They tend to be the ones who can’t imagine being alone or are afraid to travel by themselves. I’m afraid too, but I did it anyway. At some point in my life, my desire surpassed my fears, but as I drove towards Florida, the fears bloated with “what ifs.”

– What if I’m unable to get back as often as I would like to visit my boys?
– What if I’m robbed?
– What if I break down on the side of the highway and I’m alone?
– What if I get into an accident?
– What if I make a mistake while unhitching or hitching the fifth wheel?
– What if I am too scared at night to sleep?
– What if I decide I don’t like doing this?
– What if I can’t afford to do this?
– What if I am going to be alone for the rest of my life?

I put on my black t-shirt with the word “FEARLESS” printed across the front. I feel like a hypocrite if I entertain my fears while wearing it. I remind myself that it was courageous to take this journey. I’ve been waiting my whole life to explore. You see, it’s not so much about travel, it’s about exploring. Finding untouched wilderness. Beauty in every environment. To view scenery in person that likely was printed on the pages of National Geographic.

I pull into the recommended campground in Panama City Beach. It takes me a long time to unhitch and set up because my insecurities are high and my experience low. I then grab a canister, put some wine in it, pick up a chair and walk to the beach.

I may have lost my mind but it’s a good kind of crazy.

 

Comments

  1. Fearless is only one word I would use to discribe you… inspirational, caring, loving, smart, determined and beautiful are others that come to mind… thank you for sharing!

  2. What If..you have taught your boys that fear is okay and a normal emotion?
    What if…you are amazed at how many strangers are kind and loving?
    What if when you break down on the side of the highway and realize you have been
    through lots of life challenges and this certainly isn’t the worst scene of your life:)
    what if you get in an accident ( like a dog bite and wonderful EMT arrive and calm you and take care if you
    What if you have trouble hitching and a random couple that have been to previous campgrounds help you
    What if you end up in a sketchy walmart and someone knocks on your door and you dont answer and you are determined to leave bright and early
    What if you check out Big Ben and are in Awe of
    the scenery 🙂
    What if your next client is around the bend and you are meant to fulfill your life long dream:)
    What if YOUR LIFE LONG PARTNER IS JUST AROUND THE BEND

  3. I felt every single word you wrote…what a gift you are to ‘your fans’, but more importantly…to yourself!
    I love following your truth…inspires me to dream up new dreams! Thank you my very own ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Heroine! Love you!

  4. Awesome precursor. Looking forward to the rest of the story!

  5. I, too, travel in an RV alone. I left Nashville, TN almost 7 years ago and haven’t looked back. I have put about 100,000 miles on my little 22ft Class C. I have always lived my life knowing that no matter where I go or what happens, I know I will always be OK. Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. I am married to a wonderful man who allows me to entertain my wanderlust and travel alone. You will find at each stop and campground generally men will come to your aid when they see your alone. When I pull in with my big diesel rig that looks like a semi truck it never fails. I just smile and add a little more sweet southern twang and say “no thank you I’ve got this!.” I hit the mark on the first attempt. Fearless is the only way to go. Using your vision, intuition and just plain old common sense helps too.

  7. Come to Ehrenburg, Arizona next year and camp in the desert with the rest of us solo traveling women. We are a great group of nomads that camp without parks.

  8. Know this…..you are not alone in your thinking nor in your past experience. Therefore….not crazy!
    (something my second ex loved telling me every time I expressed my feelings/wants)
    And, even if you find a perfect-for-you mate, there are no guarantees in life how much time you will have together. (my bliss lasted three years and then he died.). I am a widow now for ten years since my mid fifties. Each year more focused on what I won’t allow in my life. Happiness is all around you whenever you want it to be!

    Enjoy your time of possibilities that YOU choose!

  9. What a great read. Can wait to read the next chapter.

    You are fearless. I love your sense of wanderlust.

    I hope I can follow in your footsteps some day. A nomad’s life for me!

  10. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment, share your stories or to just offer love and support. It means a lot to me – particularly to know I’m not alone and that there are other adventurous women out there, getting around road blocks and thriving with their travels!

  11. Love your blog I’m am going to start following it. I am going full time in two years or less. You are my hero, speaking about your fears. I too have fears, but I want to see places and explore. I hope one day we cross paths.

  12. This is so me right now…..

  13. I have been a full timer for 23 months and travel by myself (51 yrs old). I am suprised by the many elderly solo women rvers I meet! 8

  14. 6 Peas In A Pod :

    Absolutely amazing story. Keep doing good your passion.

  15. When I first started reading you stuff you were in Detroit. Now you are close to me. I over in fort walton beach

  16. Jim – I spent December in Florida… I’m in Vegas now! I’ll be doing another go round though!

  17. @MSgtK I haven’t met any yet!

  18. @Jennifer – I hope so too because that means you will have done it!

  19. @Lisa – I hope that means you are on the road?

  20. @Melody ! Checked out your site – love your photos!

  21. @Cayce I love you, my boy. xox

  22. I’ve only had one situation where men came to my rescue and I did not want to be rescued. I also didn’t want to be rude so I “let them” rescue me but in truth I was irritated. A couple other times I asked for help and the helpers were awesome.

  23. That book spoke to me! As I think it did many other women. 🙂 xox Love you too!

  24. All those things are true. Except the last two… those ones are holding out. 😉

  25. Love you Jim!

  26. How do I connect with this awesome group of women when I am next in AZ?

  27. Thank you… and excellent advice! We all choose happiness.

  28. Yes! Maybe I can caravan with your family! 🙂 Thank you Charlie!

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