Sitting by the pool at the Four Seasons in Vail over July Fourth weekend is both overwhelming and a bit of a culture shock. It's strange to be taking a vacation from my 'vacation' cycling across the country. The pool boy shows me to my lounge chair, spreads my towel and brings me orange-infused water. A woman comes over offering me a Rice Krispie treat on a stick with red and blue sprinkles on it, while a guy with a guitar performs live music poolside. From my chair here at the pool I can see my balcony with my tent and tent fly hanging over the railing drying. Unsure that's what the hotel wants its guests to do, but I don't care. It's a little overwhelming to be around so many people. The most people I've been around on this trip other than now was at Old Faithful. So, it's amazing, but an adjustment. I'll adapt by tomorrow, I'm sure. I'm exhausted... I'm finally feeling the 15 days without a rest day. It's like when you're a college student pushing through to finals. You finally make it to break and you get there and you are physically and mentally dead to the world. Yup, that's me. Hyper, social Jess will be herself... In a day or two!
Been thinking of a past relationship recently. I think holidays do that for me... seeing families and couples together. Ever think back to one decision you made that changed the course of a relationship? I told him, "This isn't just a weekend for fun and games. I'm in love with you now, you know that? My heart is involved now." He answered me, "Are you serious? I know that." Obviously offended that I would even have to state something so obvious. In retrospect, he didn't really get it. He didn't get that this meant more to me then it had in the past. Months later it was obvious. I shouldn't have stayed that weekend.
I feel empowered by this trip. I'm a very independent, strong woman and have always been. But, I didn't really know how to be alone for most of my life. I'm an extravert. And this trip tests that for me. But it's been easier than I thought. I love my isolation and solitude. Hours and hours of riding my bike. Arriving at a remote campground and being the only one there. I cherish it actually. Maybe 'making up' for lost alone time for 35+ years when I didn't really know how to do it. Italy this past November helped me prepare as well. Hiking in Tuscany on my own was invigorating and empowering. There are benefits to traveling alone. The CA crew was able to come back and give me a lift easier because it was just me. I've had discounts on campground prices. I get to begin each day when I'm ready. And, there are other things... one morning I found myself getting sidetracked after my shower. Instead of putting on my clothes after I hung up the damp towel, I remembered I needed to add air in my rear tire, so I pumped it up. Naked. I mean, why not?!? (I was in my own motel room, not outside at a campground, FYI!)
I've been spending some time observing families on this trip. Fathers fishing with their kids, grandparents taking their grandchildren to Dairy Queen, families laughing around a campfire. I miss companionship. I miss being around and part of a family everyday. I'm not lonely. But, it has been on my mind a lot over the past year. I don't have a partner and my family lives on the east coast. It will be interesting to see where I end up. I don't have fears about being lonely or alone. I know I'll meet someone. I feel fulfilled now. I feel strong and solid and I've been happier on this trip than I've been in a very long time. Would it be nice to be traveling with someone? Sure. But this is my trip. And as I said, I cherish this alone time.
With hours on a bike, I think about past relationships. I'm proud of my journey. I've grown considerably over the past few years in many ways, including how I need and want to be treated in a relationship. I look forward with no time expectation to meeting a companion to share life with. To have stability and laughter and honesty and strong communication. Whether that happens in 7 months from now or 10 years from now, I don't know. But in the meantime, I'll continue to absorb, grow, stretch myself, learn, set boundaries, be honest and live life with integrity. And, that one decision can change the course of your life... And as much as it ended up causing me sadness, it's part of the path I was supposed to take. And as a result, I've learned a heck of a lot about myself.