This morning, it was my last morning on travel status and I had finished the majority of my work by fairly early, so, I decided to go explore Spokane, Washington. I am not very familiar with the eastern side of Washington State, but knew I was on a quest for a nice, brisk walk, a coffee and hopefully a few unique stores.
Something I have learned about myself over the years is that I require time by myself to recharge. There is something about a cold morning walk alone with only my thoughts to remind me of everything I have to be thankful for. Now, today, I could have spent that hour and a half at the hotel gym burning some of the calories I managed to consume the day before, but, instead, I walked.
Let me tell you, that walk was exactly what I needed. I found a wonderful coffee shop and, armed with my coffee, took on a few antique shops on Main Street and a wonderful organic market. I got some great healthy snack choices for the plane and a few prizes for my family (huckleberry licorice anyone??).
Now, unless you know of a fairly significant life experience of mine, this may not seem like too much of a unique morning.
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I lived alone for a month until the summer came to an end and my roommates moved in. One Sunday morning, I woke up to all of the lights in my apartment on. It’s funny how in a moment like this, you immediately doubt your own routines. I know that before I go to bed, I turn off the lights. In that moment, I rationalized my behavior and assumed maybe, for whatever reason, I had forgot to do something I do EVERY night. As I walked out into the main living area in the apartment, my inner dialogue was going crazy as I slowly came to the realization that I had not left the lights on, misplaced my purse, broken a window… my apartment had been broken into.
As the realization was sinking in, the terrifying thought came into my mind that he/she, whoever this intruder might be, could be still in my apartment. At that moment, I ran as fast as I could, shaking, out of my apartment, up the stairs and into the parking lot where I finally made the call to the police. Within five minutes, the police were there and first went through the apartment without me and then brought me with them to assure me that the damage was done, but, I was safe now.
The purse, replaceable. The perfume, replaceable. The window, repaired. But, the thing that wasn’t replaceable or recoverable was my own sense of safety and security. My world was shaken. Even though this event happened almost ten years ago, that feeling has been so hard for me to shake. I have been through counseling, I have prayed, I have rationalized. But truly, it just took time.
Today walking around a fairly strange city, by myself, unarmed, I was not afraid. I felt at ease in my own skin, empowered and enjoyed every minute of the time by myself. What that event truly robbed me of so many years ago was remembering how much I enjoyed and require time by myself. For so long, I surrounded myself with people at every turn to keep the fear at bay. If I didn’t feel it, I didn’t have to come to terms with it. But pushing a fear away is not sustainable. Until I began to travel by myself for work, move to Washington D.C. by myself, walk a city alone, have I been able to remind myself how nice it is to just be with me.
The quiet in the air, my thoughts, a song in my head, peace.
Have you ever had your security shaken?