I'm in the habit of being alone
I try hard to break it I can't on my own
I'm glad no one's here just me by the sea
I'm glad no one's here to mess it up for me
I'm glad no one's here just me by the sea
But man, I wish I had a hand to hold
~ "Me by the Sea" by Edie Brickell & New BohemiansAfter packing up the car with all the various planned activities, rain gear, dog stuff and other random things that would fit, I made sure the iPod was fully charged so I could catch up on the backlog of podcasts waiting to be heard. With a four hour drive each way, and lots of planned roaming on the beach, I figured I could at least start to catch up. The list of podcasts seems to grow as quickly as the stack of unread books these days. C'mon Day, turn off that damn TV!
Just before heading out, I decided to grab a couple of CDs. In the era before Spotify playlists or even mp3s, I would create my own mix tapes, even as far back as when they were still tapes. I grabbed a couple of road trip CDs I made for a drive to Santa Barbara more than ten years ago. I purposely did not look at what songs were on them, wanting to have a little surprise as one song lead to the next.
I listened to podcasts until I hit the Astoria Bridge and then popped in the first CD. I crossed into Oregon listening to "Blister in the Sun" and "Who Needs Sleep" and some songs I hadn't heard in a long time. It was fun to hear the weird mashup of songs I decided sounded good together so long ago.
Once headed home, I popped the second CD into the player after hitting the quieter roads between Ocean Shores and Olympia. The horns and twangy bass of "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" was a peppy start to the soundtrack that would carry me through the the last rural bits before returning to civilization. Unfortunately, the CD started skipping by song five and stopped playing altogether after that. Back to the iPod.
But it was still time for music. Switchfoot's album "Where the Light Shines Through" was already queued up and that suited me just fine. They are a recent favorite and made me OK with missing out on the mystery songs on the CD.
When the fifth song, "If the House Burns Down Tonight" came on, we were rolling through an open bit of country south of Raymond. It is a great song about focusing on what is important, and was inspired by the singer and his family having to flee their home when wildfires were encroaching.
I see the smoke piling up in the rear view mirrorAs I turned to see my dog sitting in the seat beside me, the lyrics landed a little harder than normal. This is not who should be riding shotgun.
Yeah but I ain't ever seen it any clearer
If the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got you by my side
And let the rest burn
This was not my first trip alone. It was not even my first trip to the Oregon Coast alone. For many years now I have traveled alone, dined alone, gone to movies and concerts alone, and of course lived alone. I have another trip planned in April to travel to Big Sur to run a marathon, and again I will be flying solo. If I ever get a permit to hike The Wonderland Trail, I will probably be hiking alone.
On one hand, I am good about not waiting around for someone else before going out and doing the things I want to do. I get to choose the time, place and pace of the trip. No worrying about the other person being bored if I just want to hike around looking at viewpoints. I also have this strange fear of disappointing someone if a trip/meal/movie that I choose doesn't live up to expectation. When flying solo, if things go sideways, it is just me who has to be disappointed. Stupid, I know.
At this point, I am a little too good at being alone though. Inertia, fear and comfort zone are building up barriers, and they are only getting stronger with age. It has been a number of years since I have dated anyone. Habits ingrain, and it just becomes easier/safer not to challenge them.
I went out on a couple of dates earlier in the year, and I thought they went pretty well. It was nice to meet someone new, and the conversations flowed easily, making me feel a bit less socially awkward than I always feel. Unfortunately, she stopped responding when I reached out, "ghosting" me as they say.
My first try at online dating was not great*, but it may be time to try again. With my lack of real dating experience, ease at being alone, and tendency to stay firmly planted in the comfort zone, I am not adept at putting myself out there, but that needs to change. My excuse lately has been that I haven't been feeling that great about myself, would like to lose some weight, generally get my shit together, etc. I reasoned that I might not be my best self, but I am just overthinking it at this point. Bad habit. Makes inaction easy.
Tonight I am headed out to see a band (flying solo). Tomorrow will be about finding some flattering pictures and coming up with a catchy profile.
Must love dogs, but don't let the pup call shotgun.
*Side note, I just checked prior posts and my try at online dating was over two years ago. Damn.