Day 1: You can smell the gunfire but you can sleep soundly.

In true “is this my life now?” fashion, I didn’t start packing until I woke up this morning. And I didn’t wake up until 9:00 a.m. I’m officially 1+ days beyond my original departure date and time. To top it off, I really didn’t have a set in stone plan to begin with. SO. NOT. LIKE. ME.

Initially, I was due to depart yesterday morning to go camping with my aunt and her family. Due to a few recent events and maybe a minor breakdown or two, I decided I needed to embark on an adventure all on my own. No people, no distractions. For a long time, I’ve trusted that I’m as adaptable as origami but I’m really not; there’s always a but.

I’m accommodating to everyone around me on the outside but I’m not breathing on the inside. I’m often worrying about every action I take wondering if that’s the last one before a major setback; the good ol’ take one step forward and three steps back is always on my mind. I’m delighted for a win, some might even dare say elated; but I’m always waiting for a loss.

While that might not make sense as to why I needed to scratch my non-plans to re-plan a new non-plan; it does to me. I need to hit reset.

So, I found my way to Duluth early this afternoon. I don’t know what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be going next. If you know me even a little bit, you know that’s not a “me” thing to do. I’ve been off balance for well over a year now falling further and further away from my organized, sort of spazy nature of structure and am “winging it” far more often then I feel comfortable with. Some of you might think I’m finally learning how to chill out. Quite the opposite, my friends. I don’t function well like this but I’ve been unable to just sit and scream into a pillow. #toomanyfeels

My solution to feeling like my brain is on fire was to just leave. I’m worried to have let my aunt down by not joining her trip. I’m worried I’ll regret not partaking in bonfire s’mores and solidifying bonds with my cousins. I’m worried that I’m going to spend too much money on this spur of the moment “journey.” And most of all, I’m worried that I will wonder around and not find whatever it is I’m looking for. But I know I need to do it. I need to try to find peace in solitude.

I’m also considering this a trial run solo trip before this fall when I plan to hit up Europe alone. Something I’ve actually been too chicken shit to begin planning. As you’ll find by the start of my adventure below, I’m not nearly as confident or adventurous as I pretend to be. Fake it ’til you make it, ya’ll.


The scariest part of the day was entering Grandmas Bar & Saloon in Duluth. I’ve been here a handful of times in the past but never alone. I first walked around the entire building trying to talk myself into going in. I debated walking back over the bridge to my hotel and jumping in the car to grab some Culver’s so I wouldn’t have to be that loser that eats alone in public. Once I talked myself into going inside a sit down restaurant all by my lonesome, I weirdly avoided eye contact with the host like some kind of thief. But that didn’t work because in true hostess fashion, she kindly said “Table for 1?”

Once I got over the fact that I was in a booth made for one, I ordered myself a $30 dinner like the queen I am. I’ve never done this and I don’t actually think I’m a queen but I thought that if I could talk myself into overcoming fear number 728, I could treat myself to a walleye dinner and a chocolate shake.

I think a common theme on this trip will be spurts of ‘scared dog with a tail between her legs’ and a ‘girl channeling Lizzo at the BET Awards last week.’ Clearly.

I’ll share some photos at the end of this post along the lake-walk at Canal Park. It was a pleasantly beautiful day. I think it maybe hit 75 degrees and with the lake breeze, it was poifect. #shipsonshipsonships today.

The best part of the day, however, was when I decided to head back to the hotel. It overlooks the harbor in Duluth and has a handful of outside seating options. I sat down, turned on some music, and closed my eyes for a bit. Soon after, a couple of older guys decided to join; getting ready to watch the sunset, I presumed.

PSA: I don’t know how to socialize. I hate being a part of the weather conversations everyone with nothing to say talk about and am really not a fan of small talk. Can we all just start talking about real things, plz? Even with that, I’m still awkward AF with people sometimes. So, outside of saying “hello,” I didn’t want to be weird or rude or whatever so I continued to do my own thing while these dudes visited.

But, these men were interesting and I ended up creepily inserting myself into the conversation. It probably wasn’t that creepy but there is a designated amount of time where it’s not weird to join in on a strangers convo. I exceeded that time limit by like, a lot.

The one dude is from Minneapolis and as drunk as a skunk. I think he asked me the same question 5 times before I started changing my answer. The other man, probably in his mid-60’s was fascinating. His name is Mats and he’s from Stockholm, Sweden but now lives in Lexington, Kentucky. He’s a veterinarian and owns an equine clinic down there. Mats, who I can only assume was a player back in his day, shared with us that he’s become a father at least once in every single decade since the 70’s. Yes, re-read that as many times as you want. His oldest is about to be 46 and his youngest just turned 9. [insert wide-eyed emoji here].

Not only that, but because of his equine vet biz, he was commissioned to live in Qatar for 3 years to help train and care for horses in the middle east. I’m the worst person to know what’s going on in the middle east so I was surprised to hear that Qatar is one of the most peaceful places in the world, according to this guy. He said “you can smell the gunfire but you can sleep soundly.” What?

Anyway, he was traveling with his three youngest kids. One lives in Florida, one in Minnesota and the other in Norway. He’s both trying to make up for lost time being away for work for so long and to educate his children via travel because he believes that by traveling at a young age, you can rip down the prejudices in the world by exposing yourself to all sorts of cultures. [now inserting a praise Jesus emoji, a clapping hands emoji, and a YAS QUEEN dancing emoji].


There is so much more to the stories that I heard tonight but that is all for now. While the last few days had been emotionally draining, I’m starting to feel better. I expect I’ll find more hurdles to cross in the next few days but I hope I start to feel more and more comfortable with who I am and what I have to offer. Had I not decided to walk into that restaurant alone or visit with a couple of fellow travelers, I’d never had been exposed to the stories I heard tonight while watching the sun set over Duluth.

 

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