When I said this year was going to be the year of new experiences, I was not kidding! This spring I got to have some of the most amazing new experiences I could have ever asked for. I went on a completely solo trip to a new city (actually two new cities), stayed in an Airbnb alone, and went to a concert alone!
I’ve never travelled solo before. Sure, I’ve flown solo plenty of times even as a child, thanks to having my dad’s side of my family in another state. My solo flying always took me to a place where family was waiting on the other side, whether that was flying out to my California family or flying home to my New Mexico family.
What’s funny is this was actually originally supposed to be a regular non-solo trip, with my husband coming along and with both of us staying with my sister and grandma in the Los Angeles area. But, with a little dumbassery on my part, it turned into a very different trip.
Cut to me, sitting in my favorite chair, innocently scrolling Instagram. I then came upon a post by the band Thursday, whom I’ve loved since I was a kid. The post announced their 20th anniversary tour, in which they’d be touring their second and third albums through a handful of Californian cities. Their third album, War All The Time, was the first album I ever heard by them, and remains my favorite to this day. One of the shows was in Los Angeles, which is within driving distance of my sister and grandmother. My mind began to whir with the possibilities, knowing that I might just be able to see them!
It turned out my husband and I could in fact afford a short trip out to California, and it worked out so perfectly! The Los Angeles show was on a Saturday, so my husband could come too, and we could stay with my family. We’d each get a mini vacation, I’d see one of my top bands (one of the few I hadn’t seen in concert yet) and we’d get to spend some quality time with my family. The day the tickets went on sale, I was practically buzzing with excitement. I sat with the webpage open a good half-hour before the tickets went on sale, ready to hit refresh and snatch up my ticket!
In my excitement, I was very careful to buy the ticket for the War All The Time show. Don’t wanna accidentally buy the wrong show, now do I? Ticket purchased, I sat back to bask in that “I’m going to a dope concert” glow. But then, reading the information on the e-ticket, I realized something: I had, in fact, bought the wrong fucking ticket.
I had not bought the Saturday Los Angeles show, I had bought the Thursday San Francisco show.
Now, I wouldn’t stay with my family (a good 6 hours away from San Fran), but instead in the least expensive Airbnb we could find, which happened to be across the bay in Oakland. Now, my husband couldn’t accompany me, since I’d be going in the middle of the week and all. Instead, I would be going solo.
I was a little nervous about going somewhere totally new by myself, but at the same time I was actually pretty excited to do something like this. I felt that experiencing the world on my own would be a good way to grow and become more confident.
As it turned out, the whole thing didn’t feel much different than going with someone else. The only salient difference was not having an audience for the whimsical thoughts I had, no one to turn to when I saw something interesting in the shops, no one to geek out with before or after the concert. These things made it somewhat lonely, but not necessarily in a bad way. Instead, I laughed at my own jokes, looked excitedly at interesting souvenirs in Chinatown, listened to street music and ate yummy food. As for geeking at the concert, punk concert goers are an incredibly friendly and chatty bunch, and I found myself chatting and smiling and dancing with the people around me.
What I felt most the whole time was this giddiness and contentedness. It was a little thrilling as I got on public transit by myself, doing things like buying a ticket for the BART to make my way through Oakland and across the bay to downtown San Fran the night of the concert, or finding and riding the ferry, or just taking the bus. I felt rather at peace wandering the streets of downtown Oakland my first day and downtown San Fran my second, seeing the sights and people and buildings and doing everything I wanted to, and not being upset when I didn’t have time for something. Being lost in my own thoughts, not obligated to be talking or smiling or deciding what to do next with someone else was sort of freeing. Plus, I just like wandering around big cities.
The concert itself was a magical experience to say the least. Being surrounded by people who had also been shaped from a young age by this band and this album particularly gave the whole night an almost spiritual air, and hearing these songs that I’ve loved so much for the last decade played live just two feet from my face (cause you know I always get front row) was indescribable. I was actually very surprised that I didn’t cry once, even though I did come close. The next day, I listened to the album again, and it felt almost reverent, almost like I shouldn’t be listening to it on something like my phone after the night before. Even months later, listening to those songs makes my heart swell as I recall the concert.
I think the thing that surprises other people the most when I mention it about this trip is that none of this was all that scary. Going to a concert alone wasn’t all that scary, especially since no one at a concert is interested in anything but the band, and honestly it feels more like being in a community of like-minded people. Staying at an Airbnb alone wasn’t all that scary, especially since I had been careful to choose someone I’d be comfortable staying with and as it turned out I hardly saw my host, and when I did she was incredibly friendly (actually, my hostess was freaking incredible and if you are in the Oakland area looking for place to stay, I highly recommend Kim’s place!). Wandering a big city alone wasn’t all that scary, especially since I know how to handle myself and to have a good eye on my belongings.
The year of new experiences just keeps on giving, and I am so thankful for all the things I’ve gotten to do. I am so happy I went on this trip and got to experience traveling alone. I can’t wait to do something like this again. I also can’t wait to get back to San Fran and Oakland and to get to know them better after only having a couple days there.
I would definitely recommend a solo trip to anyone who can take one!