I have to say, I really hand it to people that live adventurous lives. Although I’ve done many interesting things in my life, I wouldn’t say I’m all that adventurous; in fact, I’d say I’m pretty conservative and shy. So when I decided to attend an online copywriting workshop in New York, I was quite nervous. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go alone, but no one else could go. Now, I’ve only travelled on business once in my life and it was the only time I’d ever travelled alone. It turned out to be pretty easy since I only had to fly in and out the same day. But this time, I had to go to New York where I’d never been before and knowing what a big city it was really intimidated me. The thought of having to get around that place by myself and not get lost or mugged was frightening.
As the cab approached my hotel in Brooklyn, the area looked kind of dumpy and run-down and I wasn’t sure I was in the right place. It didn’t help my nerves when I saw the clerk standing behind bullet-proof glass. For lunch, I only wandered a few blocks from the hotel for fear I might get lost. At the Burger King, I built up enough courage to ask a nice-looking couple how to get to the World Trade Center site so I could pay my respects. They directed me to the subway a few more blocks down the street–ohmygosh! My first New York subway ride…will I get mugged? Well, it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I sat next to a well-dressed and friendly young woman who told me exactly how to get to the site. Needless to say, it was a very powerful and tear-jerking experience.
After that, I had just enough time to visit the Statue of Liberty. But when I got to the train station, the conductor was yelling something that sounded like "No train!" The trains had stopped running. The girl standing next to me said something about a shuttle bus going to the ferry. And since we were going the same way, we decided we’d either catch the bus together or get lost together. Her name is Olwyn; she’s originally from Ireland and she’s lived and traveled all over the world. She was taking two months to travel the United States…all on her own! She started in Boston, came to New York, then was going to travel down the East Coast, then to Orlando, New Orleans, Dallas, then up the West Coast. She stays at hostels everywhere, meeting new people every day (sometimes only for a day) and doing everything on her own. How brave is THAT! Anyway, we hopped on the last ferry and did the tour around the bay. I tell you I had a great time with her, just chatting up the day and feeling like I’d bonded with a long-lost friend. I was so glad to have someone to hang out with even for a few hours. She invited me to join her for drinks and dinner the next night after my workshop; of course, I said yes.
So the next night, she texted my phone and told me to meet her at the Toys R Us in Times Square. When I arrived in Times Square, it was almost overwhelming with all the neon lights blazing and walking through the crowded street. Before I even made it to Toys R Us, we somehow managed to run into each other on 42nd Street (or was it Broadway?) and she’d brought her friend Louise from Australia–yet another person Olwyn met in the hostel who’s also traveling the world on her own! On this trip, she’s been to many countries including Ireland, Spain and England. Man, these ladies are brave! We went to O’Lunney’s Irish Pub, had dinner and drinks at the bar and chatted the entire night away. We talked about all kinds of things. But the thing that really made the most impression on me was their travels and the fact that they were backpacking it for weeks, even months all alone! I can’t imagine how homesick and lonely I would get. Sure, I’ve traveled to many exciting places around the world: Thailand, Japan, and Spain… But there was always someone there running the show for me. If you’ve never travelled by yourself, it’s easy to take it for granted how comforting it is to have someone there. And the ironic thing is, if I HAD gone with someone else from work, I probably wouldn’t have met Olwyn or Louise, my two newest friends who’ve inspired me to be a little more adventurous.