by myself at an amusement park

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I have been resting well for the past two days as a result of my second date by myself – a 10-hour day at Canada’s Wonderland, in Toronto. My 31-year-old body cannot handle roller coasters quite like it used to.

I arrived at noon. An overcast afternoon with intermittent showers did not deter hoards of guests from packing the park. It would appear I am not the only person who has figured out that rain makes the coasters go faster. Here I am at the entrance, armed with only a smile and a fist full of 20s shoved in my bra. Let’s get this started.

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I headed straight for the largest and fastest ride in the park: Leviathan. It also had the longest line, extending well outside of the normal boundaries and into the general pedestrian area. Ahead of me in line was a very short Indian family, excitedly conversing in their native language. Behind me was a group of very short Asian ladies, also speaking a tongue I could not understand. There was no mistaking that the tall white weirdo between these groups was by herself.

Together, we slowly shuffled through the 2-hr maze that ultimately lead us to the 2 minutes of extreme fun we all sought. (This is a strange ritual when you think of it in terms of time invested.) I’d have thought this would’ve been horribly awkward. It wasn’t. I actually enjoyed myself. Oh, and the ride was good too. Shout out to the random 14-year old boy sitting beside me; well done.

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The sun soon came out; and as the day progressed, my calm enjoyment evolved into full blown bliss. I dare declare I had a better time by myself than I may have with other people.

Had I been with a group, I would have had to consider their needs and wants in deciding where we would go next and what we would do. I may have pushed myself to do more than I wanted, making me irritable and unpleasant. Instead, the small decisions that make up my normal behavior became purely subconscious and instinctual. I was relaxed from the gate; but as the hours rolled on, I felt myself really leaning in to the experience.

My usually fast pace slowed to a leisurely stroll. I took my time getting from one place to the next, stopping even, to take in my surroundings and enjoy the time in between. Finally, I was getting to see who I am and what I am like out in the world, without the affect of outside factors. Here is what I’ve learned:

  • I am patient. I will say it again, I enjoyed the time spent waiting in line. Without another person’s irritation rubbing off on me, I was free to people-watch and let my mind wander. This brings me to my second point.
  • I am a daydreamer. I look forward to and relish in the time when my brain is permitted to leave my body and do as it pleases. My imagination is a wonderful place to exist.
  • I probably got some strange looks and/or comments for being alone; but if I did, I didn’t notice them this time. When I am truly comfortable in my skin, I am oblivious to judgment. Furthermore, I am impervious to embarrassment. When a ride attendant shouted down the line for a single rider, I raised both arms and gleefully shouted, “ooh, me!” then blew past the remainder of the line laughing. Suckers!
  • I am kind to strangers and will happily interact with them when I feel like it. A lady cut in front of the majority of one line to join her friends. She looked behind herself then told them, “Guys, I think I should leave. I just pissed off a lot of people.” “Yeah, but fuck those people,” I chimed in, “you’re fine.” She smiled at me gratefully. (I already knew myself to be vulgar and somewhat inappropriate.)
  • While I do consider myself an active person, and I loved being on my feet moving around all day, I also love a good rest. I will shamelessly report that I napped in my car at one point. A good hour of rest kept my eyes bright and my tail bushy.
  • Even without companions, I find a lot of humour in ordinary things. And I still laugh loudly when I encounter them. On my last ride of the day, Behemoth, an older lady – who also seemed to be by herself and had been straight-faced and silent throughout the line – sat beside me. From the moment the ride started to move until well after it stopped, she shouted, “No! No! No! No! No!” I couldn’t contain myself. I laughed so hard tears were pouring out of my eyes, across my face and into my ears. That may have been my favourite moment of the day.

Aside from riding rides, I participated in a lot of fun things I may not have if I weren’t alone. I watched a show with acrobats, I got a caricature…

IMG_20150808_202049…nailed it by the way, and I went in the waterpark. That’s right; bonus points achieved! My kingdom for a good lazy river.

So why was my date at an amusement park so much easier than when I went mini-golfing by myself? Is it because I was rendered completely anonymous and practically invisible in such a vast crowd? Is it because I had a lot more time to get comfortable? Is it because amusement parks infect you with a general sense of well-being? Perhaps but who cares! It was a great day and I couldn’t be bothered to question it.

EC

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really by myself

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While backpacking in Australia, I briefly worked as a housekeeper at one of the hostels I stayed in. Living on the beach for free was well worth that time I cleaned red wine puke off the bathroom walls.

I remember a well-dressed woman in her 30s coming in and telling the front desk she was there to review us. They immediately upgraded her to a private suite and instructed us to kiss her ass for a week. She, of course, was lying. They eventually called her on her bullshit and she was asked to leave. We were pissed. She’d had us running around fetching things for her and smiling about it.

In retrospect, her scheme was pretty brilliant and hilarious. (She got a lot of free stuff out of us.) I also completely understand the need behind it.

When I explained to my dad that I am now dating myself for the purpose of learning to enjoy solitude (among other meaningful reasons) he had some tips for me.

He suggested I bring my own ball when I go bowling, wear gloves when I go mini golfing, and bring a notepad when I go to a fancy restaurant. Then I could tell people I was a professional bowler/golfer out for a practice session, or the other diners would think I was reviewing the restaurant. Excellent tips to avoid feeling rejected, alienated, lonely, or weird.

I appreciate his need to protect me; he’s a good dad. But I don’t want to protect myself from these feelings; I’d like to make friends with them.

We would have treated that lone traveler with the same respect as all the other guests. What a tempting thought though: to be treated differently because you tell people you are important instead of risking being treated differently because there is “something wrong with you.”

Here’s the catch: she didn’t make any friends or join in on any of the fun activities while she was there. Trying to be better than everyone can be just as lonely as believing yourself less than them.

Yes, lady traveling alone, it is scary being by yourself, especially in a new country. And yes, dad, it is scary being out by myself in couples-and-families-only scenarios. Both of your fears are justified; this is all true. I just don’t want it to be true for me anymore.

I am alone and I don’t want to be afraid of it. The fear of being alone is what kept me in unhealthy, abusive, and destructive relationships for so long. I don’t want to end up married to some asshole just because it’d be “better than being alone.” Fuck that shit.

I’m supposed to be heading out for glow-in-the-dark bowling by myself tonight. That was the plan. But I just don’t feel like bowling today. That’s the magical thing about dating yourself. The answer to “what should we do tonight” is always “whatever I feel like!”

I’m on my way to an amusement park by myself for the day. Bring on the roller coasters and long lineups filled with uncomfortable eye-contact evasion!

Bonus points if I get my sexy ass into the water park. Wish me luck!

-EC