Friday, November 11, 2016


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Yes, that’s an Augustana song. Yes, that was intentional. 

Earlier in the year I had a conversation with someone about songs that define who you are, or particular phases in your life. The answer I gave was “Boston” by Augustana. This person wasn’t familiar with the song so I eagerly pulled it up on my phone. I almost immediately regretted it once the opening lines began coming out of the speakers. The song is quite sad after all. Yikes, oversharing.

That isn’t necessarily the only message though. The song is about the desire for rebirth, which is beautiful and transformative. 

So I went to Boston, alone. 

“Who do you know in Boston?”

“I can’t believe you’re going alone.”

“That’s awesome, but I couldn’t do that.”

Honestly, I knew deep down I felt the same way. I’m a traveler, but not the kind that grabs their backpack and departs on a solo trip through Asia, making friends in hostels along the way. I’m independent, but I’m not that independent. Being alone is a big deal for me. The aloneness doesn’t sit well with me, it never has. 

“What you have yet to learn, life will always find a way to teach you.” – Kiran Rai 

When the majority of your life decisions have been dictated by this fear of being alone however, maybe it’s time to stare this fear right in the eye and face it, or maybe even punch it in the nose, whatever gets the job done.  Life has a way of teaching us exactly what it is we need to know, even when we don’t want to learn the lesson. Years are spent avoiding these lessons. Issues we haven’t wanted to deal with, or confront, are forced upon us no matter how hard we resist. Finally, the point of giving in is reached and you realize that what you’ve been fighting against for so long might also be the exact thing that you need.

You throw in the towel. 

This is how it is, stop resisting. 

You do what you want to do even if no one is there beside you, because otherwise you wouldn’t do it.
You go where you want to go regardless of whether someone can take the journey with you, because on some days you would hardly get beyond the door of your apartment waiting on a companion. 

So, I navigated a new city. The girl who always dreamed of seeing the world, but who also depended on others to fulfill those dreams with her or for her, went out and explored.

 This is how it is.

I walked around Beacon Hill. Looking in the shop windows and snapping pictures of the doorways or ivy growing up the brown bricks. After venti lattes and cheese danishes I found the water and followed it to Charles Bridge walking towards Cambridge. Heading that way you must turn around to get a view of the city. The trees were turning colors and the sun made the water sparkle. Bikers flew past as runners made their way across. The buildings, the water, the trees, the people, it couldn’t have looked more spectacular.

Later I walked back through Beacon Hill to the edge of Boston Common and the Public Gardens. Ponds and trees framed the city. The squirrels came right up to me. I wandered from bench to bench, surrounded by couples, friends, and a few others like myself. I noticed the red and yellow trees, the leaves contrasting against the blue sky and green grass.

It all seemed perfect, because wow, fall in New England is magical after all. “Even the air feels different” as a friend of mine remarked after I returned home while reminiscing about autumn in New England. 

It really does.

Before I knew it the sun was reaching golden hour and it struck me how content I was. There I was completely alone on a bench in a city where I knew no one, and yet I didn’t want to change a thing. Nothing about that day needed to be different, and because of that nothing about the past year or the past 10 years needed to be different. It all led to that, being there alone, and to being so utterly okay with that fact.  

This is how it is. 

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” –Wayne Dyer 

It’s funny how it takes being on your own to not only show you what you’re capable of, but also to point out that you’re not that isolated after all. In this aloneness you’re somehow closer to everyone and everything. Maybe you just pay more attention. The texts you get from loved ones cheering you on and asking about your adventure bring to mind the faces of all those who truly care for you.
Being alone has you sitting at the bar during dinner, but that means you meet people inquisitive about your travels who want nothing more than to talk about the best neighborhoods, or the Red Sox, or the year they spent in Belgium with their job. Two hours pass and you realize you spent more time talking than being silent, and you have five new places on the list to explore tomorrow. 

This is how it is, and that’s okay.

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