Many years ago I started traveling for work. At first I took meals in my room, ordering ridiculously expensive and fussy room service food. That got old quickly, and I started venturing out to restaurants—and trying to feel OK about asking for a table for one. I was completely liberated by the concept that I was fine doing things on my own. While I no longer travel for work very often, I am still drawn to mini-vacations spent all on my own.
So I just spent a few days solo at a resort and spa in Traverse City, Michigan. Michigan? Yes, I more or less closed my eyes and pointed at a map. It’s like kind of a big state that isn’t on either coast, which confuses me. I learned in school that there are a whole lot of states in the middle of the country, but I chalked it up to urban legend. Michigan does exist, which means I might even buy that The Dakotas are real–both of them.
Anyhoo, when I got to this Michigan place, I rode the shuttle from the airport with a couple who were also staying at the resort. The bus driver started describing all the activities that are just perfect for romance. He asked me if I was going to have time to do anything fun since I was there for a conference. I explained that I wasn’t there for a conference, but in fact was taking a “me time” vacation. Silence. The couple looked at me with that “how sad for you” expression, as they scooted closer to each other. The bus driver started back pedaling about all the things that weren’t just good for couples, why who knows I might actually like them too. If, you know, I planned on doing anything.
And so it went. Three times a day announcing I would like a table for one. At breakfast the first morning, the hostess seated me in a corner half hidden behind a wall that was clearly used most often for staff breaks and not guest seating. The next morning, she tried steering me to the same table and I pointed to one right in the middle of the room and said I’d prefer to sit there. Really? There? Yes, really. There. She was puzzled—but in fairness she seemed like the kind of person who puzzles easily.
At the spa, which surely should be a bastion of solitude, I relaxed in my fluffy robe until a group of giggly women sipping champagne started interrogating me. In very loud whispers they discussed whether or not they should invite me to dinner, or do something. Thankfully, I was called into the treatment room before they could decide what they needed to do with me now that I’d washed up ashore.
At the beach and again at the pool, I searched for an empty seat and found that the only available chairs were shoved in the middle of large families who had taken over an entire side or corner. As I settled in among the families, mothers pulled their children away, presumably concerned that I was either a pedophile or contagious or both. I will admit I did little to relieve them of their assumptions, possibly scratching a lot for dramatic effect. I have to indulge in a little fun!
Meanwhile, during the entire trip I found only one drawback to my delightful me time. I had my wallet and my iPad with me at the pool and at the beach, and I wasn’t sure what to do with them while I went into the water. After much deliberation, I finally left them on my chair covered with a towel, which as we all know is the height of modern security. Thankfully, no one touched them. Maybe because I convinced them I really was contagious, and alone-ness could spread like wildfire.