One of the goals I had for 2022 was to travel more. Locally, nationally, probably not internationally, right now, as it’s difficult to get a passport in time. But definitely see more of the country than I have over the last several years.
I wasn’t sure that I could afford it until I put the move on one of my airline credit cards and earned points for every dollar I spent. Now, sitting on top of over 100,000 airline points, the US is kind of my oyster (except that right now fuel prices are sky high – but that’s a story for another day).
Anyway, to back up, if you don’t already know this about me – and I doubt that you do, because I don’t spend a lot of my time writing about it, I’m a big fan of Renaissance and Reformation England (namely, the Tudor era). I’ve spent countless years studying every aspect of it, networking with historians, driving to weird libraries just to see primary source materials in Middle English… longing for the day that I can actually go to England and get CLOSE to this stuff but knowing that this is probably several years away, at least.
But then, right before I moved, I saw an ad for an exhibit in Los Angeles displaying many of the paintings done by Hans Holbein – who was one of the court painters during Henry VIII’s time. Because I was trying to leave Florida – and because I was short on time and funds, I knew that LA would be out of the question. But then I saw that the exhibit was coming to NYC. And… well… I knew I had to go.
At first, Geoff was going to go with me but, as we all know, that fell apart. I was a little reluctant to go on my own – it would be my first time in NYC alone, and it felt a little intimidating. But as the time for the exhibit’s expiration grew closer, I knew I’d regret it forever if I didn’t go. It was going to be a short trip – time was short, budget was low, and I didn’t have all that much (I thought) in NYC that I absolutely had to see except this exhibit.
But I have unlimited PTO and it was there so… I went.
When I landed at LaGuardia, I got a cab to the hotel room I’d reserved in Midtown and realized that… you know… after all those years of driving in Florida, I could probably have driven in NY now. Traffic was bad (as I expected, especially during rush hour) but not something I wouldn’t have known how to navigate. But the best part was that the tv in the back of the cab was playing almost endless ads for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play on Broadway.
I’d had plans to go to that with Geoff but thought it would be weird if I went alone… still… I was going to be right there. I mean, tickets were probably gone by now for those two days, right?
After I got checked in, I checked the site and there was one single ticket for the seat I wanted, in the row I wanted, in the position I wanted. It was expensive (not as expensive as Madonna… but still… not cheap) but I figured YOLO right? So I bought that too.
Over the next two days I kept myself on a really tight schedule. I saw the exhibit (which was amazing… I can’t even tell you what it was like to be that close to a painting of Sir Thomas More). I went to the play (even MORE amazing… I don’t care if you are a Potterhead or not… this is a play you WANT to see, if only for the effects alone – just make sure you pee before you go in, you pee at intermission, and you don’t have anything to drink during the show).
And it was a really short trip. I spent more money than I’d planned to. I spent a lot of time walking, and remembering the first time I went to NYC back in 2002 as this very mesmerized nineteen year old who had never seen a city any bigger than Nashville. NYC is still fascinating to me, and I love its energy, but it doesn’t intimidate me anymore. I think that was the biggest surprise.
I wasn’t even really intimidated when I got lost in Midtown at midnight because I accidentally passed my hotel and just kept walking for at least another two miles. I didn’t even get mugged (though my own personal Mr. Big made me quit texting him while I was walking just in case).
And yeah, the fact that I spent basically those entire three days texting my version of Mr. Big (or Rhett Butler, if you prefer) in the city of which the original (and fictional) Mr. Big came from… let’s just say the irony was not lost on me. I’m not saying it was the best part of my trip (I would have preferred him to have been there with me), but certainly it added a little extra flavor to it.
And now, sitting here, staring at the wand I got as a souvenir at the play, with my Holbein book on the table next to me, and a crap ton of photos that I might update this post with later but, for now, will probably just keep to myself, I realized I’ve come a long, long way since those days in Florida and it hasn’t even been that long.
Because this is not a trip I’d have dared to make on my own between 2014 – 2020. It’s not something I would have been able to afford, nor would I have had the confidence to do so. Thing is, it’s not even that I’ve magically become some huge badass in the last six months either. It’s more like I’ve remembered who I WAS prior to those days. PRIOR to when I met POS. My confidence is back. My badassery is back.
It’s not that I’m not nervous sometimes… I do get nervous. But I’m also confident in my ability to survive, and to “figure things out” if shit doesn’t go entirely to plan.
And with that trip in the books, well, I’ve got two more on the agenda – one of which is already paid for. In about a month I’ll be going further West (and north) than I’ve ever gone before.
And this is only the beginning.