On a Wednesday morning earlier this month, I boarded a train from Boston to New York City. My husband was headed to a work conference in Texas, and I had decided to take a solo adventure while he was away.
When I told people about my plans, their initial response was always the same: “By yourself?”
My mother was doubtful, my sister surprised, my friend Abigail wistful. “You’re so brave,” she said. I’m fairly certain they all expected me to be nervous about spending three days in the city alone. But I could hardly keep the glee out of my voice.
I’m an introvert by nature, a small-town girl by upbringing and heritage. I’m the granddaughter, on both sides, of farmers who raised cattle and alfalfa hay on quiet green acres bordered by forests. I’m a West Texan, and I admit to loving the solitude and freedom of those wide open spaces: long gray ribbons of highway stretching to the horizon, the silhouettes of tall pump jacks and mesquite scrub against so much sky.
I’ve come to cherish a different kind of solitude in recent years, though: the experience of being alone in a city.