Road to a Treehouse Pt. I
I have never traveled solo. I’ve never decided I wanted to go somewhere and booked myself accommodations and just gone. Booking my Airbnb was so weird…I have such a shame/guilt complex when it comes to spending money on frivolous things or doing nice things for myself. Every step along the way, I felt like a magic travel genie was going to jump out of my computer and announce that I was doing it all wrong.
I was also trained from an early age to think that women are not supposed to travel alone.
My mom didn't run errands alone at night when I was growing up. I remember once when we needed to run to the grocery store and she made a comment like, "I don't think my husband would like me to go by myself." For a long time I remember thinking that she just felt uncomfortable being out at night by herself, that she would ask one of us kids to go with her simply because she wanted the company, the comfort that came with another body by her side. But then I got older and somewhere along the line I realized that the person who really didn't want her driving alone at night was my dad.
It's not like we lived in a particularly unsafe area. I mean, we lived five minutes away from a shiny Publix, which was the kind of grocery store where you saw sweet older men that reminded me of my grandpa and tired moms pushing whiny kids in a cart shaped like a car.
And so I became a little ingrained with the idea that the world is a scary, bad place. One of the most essential theological tenets drilled into my head was that humanity is totally depraved, totally devoid of inherent goodness, which meant that any person who wasn't a believer (one of the elect, the minority of the earth) was, by nature, capable of terrible, awful deeds. Pair the belief in humanity's essentially wicked nature with the assumption that women are weaker and less wise than men, that they need the protection of their fathers, brothers, husbands and you begin to understand why I was always discouraged from venturing out into the dark, scary world by myself.
And so I have never set out on the road simply because I want to travel it, to reach a destination with no familiar faces, to sit alone at a meal in a city I've never seen before. Until this week. News flash — the world isn’t that scary. (!?!?) Sure, I bought myself some pepper spray before I left. I left my itinerary with my sister and checked in with several people every day via text to let them know I was alive. I took some precautions and tried to listen to my gut about whether a situation was safe. I tried to be smart. But there are a lot of fucking awesome people out there in the world. Just in case you didn’t know.
One of my biggest reasons for wanting to take a trip by myself was because I knew that, as I grew closer to my MFA application deadlines, I would need the time to write and edit and try to make my portfolio a cohesive unit. I have a little less than 8 weeks left before my first deadlines and I still have an astonishing amount of work to do. The best thing about my treehouse Airbnb was that I was less than 20 minutes to all the coffee shops in Asheville. So I spent a lot of time drinking coffee and writing (more about that in Part II).
Tuesday morning, I woke up and packed my car and started a playlist and started driving North. I had reserved a campsite for Tuesday night near Highlands NC and I decided to go to the Talulah River Gorge on the way. I’ve been wanting to go for a long time, but I never have. After camping Tuesday night, I drove to Asheville and spent the day in a coffee shop before checking into my Airbnb. My most magical, amazing treehouse Airbnb.
I was both excited and super nervous about staying in my treehouse. I was prepared to freeze my ass off since the low was forecasted to be in the 30’s and the walls of the treehouse were screens, not windows. BUT when I arrived I discovered that the bed was heated, which basically meant that I spent an inordinate amount of time in bed reading and writing and drinking cups and cups of tea. Like a hilarious amount of tea. But it was an adventure for sure. There were other Airbnbs on the property so occasional I saw some other (non creepy) guests and the bathroom (while incredibly beautiful) was outside and consisted of two compost toilets. It made needing to pee at 7am very cold (and rainy on my last morning), but I lived.
On my second to last day, I’ll admit I felt super weird after spending three days all by myself. Sitting still with myself for an extended period of time was a lot harder than I expected. (I love spending time by myself, so why wouldn’t I love a solo get-away?) And while I did love it and thoroughly enjoy my time, consistently listening to my own thoughts did wear me down. Normally when I’m feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I default to binge-watching Netflix in bed. It’s not my best coping mechanism obviously (I would say that I’m working on it but…am I?) but it’s what’s comfortable and normal and it’s the only thing I wanted to do on my last night.
Sometimes the worst company is your own mind, especially when it’s the only company available.