Book Review – SOLO On Her Own Adventure
“I am famous for mad dashes, for suddenly deciding I must breathe the air in another state or country. I believe in following these impulses even when they’re dangerous. “
Books find me. And I let them.
This one found me few years ago at my first Spartan Beast in Ottawa. We were staying at friend’s house, and the cover obviously caught my attention. At the end of our stay the host handed me the book.
This is a collection of essays by female solo travellers.In this volume, women climb, trek, cycle, canoe and hunt their way to love, identity and clarity. You can see why books like these are dangerous for me to read, right? My travel bug is alive and well – even without the fuel of amazing stories of forests, mountains and lakes.
Over the years my friends must have sent me every single version of “why you should date the girl who travels”, and “why you should NOT date the girl who travels” articles and blog posts.
Although, it is strange, really. It’s the Italian who should be receiving those articles, no? And then, it seems that he’s made that choice already.
He calls me “gypsy mutt”. Rightly so.
I work remotely.
I love to travel.
I hate the winter.
I get a gleam in my eye when flights go on sale.
The first thing I asked him to hang on the wall when I moved in was the huge map of the world.
I do get little glimpses of solo travel while at home. My long runs. My trail walks. My work sessions at coffee shops in small towns hours away from home, just because I felt like being somewhere new that day.
“I am a solitary desert-goer, a solo river-watcher, a woman who walks the forest without companion. I first went to the desert thinking I knew the name of God. But once there, I realized I knew only parts of a name: golden marmot, red-tailed hawk, mule deer, river ouzel, merganser, owl, red-shafted flicker, slick rock, river swallows, trout, sage, alders, lupine, juniper. I return to the desert to gather more parts of the name whispered by the voices. There is danger in going there alone. There is more danger in not going.“
Ah, desert. Running a half marathon in Eilat’s desert. Riding a donkey with the bedouins and collecting red dust on my Salomons in the desert of Petra, Jordan. Dancing at sunrise at Burning Man in the Nevada desert.
It is so tempting to misspell desert as “dessert”. Once you taste the desert, it’s easy to want more. And more. Sugary sand is addictive.
“Each journey is unique. In solitude, I add or shed layers, either lose myself or find myself or do both and not know the difference. I have learned to follow the path of personal reality. Openings appear: doors into the desert’s heart, real and illusory. To walk through requires courage. I might not return unchanged. I might not return at all.“
I have returned every time.
Or have I?
The door to Canada appeared in my life over a decade ago. I walked through and never returned.
“Avoid going home at all costs. It is too dangerous. Stay out there. Stay with the desert wherever you go. Even if you must remove your body and cart it back to the city. Leave the river in your blood, the bloodstains from being lost on your legs, the copper sun of full moon on your skin, the reverence for juniper in your litany.“
There is a disconnect between your body coming back and your heart coming back. After returning from India, I was a walking empty shell for weeks. Months.
Part of me is still there.
“It is best to remember not to speak of some things you have seen and done while alone in the desert. People will misunderstand what you say. It is difficult to explain. If you try, your listener will miss the point. Perhaps be inattentive or interrupt your story. This person and many others you thought you knew will not know about desert manners.“
How do you explain the experience of riding a motorcycle along the shores of Ganges? Watching sunrise from a boat in Varanasi and catching a glimpse of a child’s corpse floating by? Biting into a slice of pizza at the oldest pizzeria in the world?
– How was your trip?
– It was great!
What a meaningless exchange.
YOUR TURN: Did this post resonate with you? Tell me why in the comments.
aka Gypsy Mutt