I love traveling by myself. But I get the impression that I am supposed to at least pretend that leaving my family for more than three hours at a time is so gut-wrenchingly painful that I nearly cry myself to sleep in the quiet darkness of a luxury hotel room, cosseted by freshly pressed sheets and haunted by images of a leisurely breakfast unaccompanied by SpongeBob’s irritating laugh.
Yeah, solo travel, it’s miserable. I highly recommend it.
It’s not that I don’t also love traveling with friends and family, I do. Traveling by myself just gives me the freedom and flexibility to do all of the things that my family and friends would find boring, irritating or straight up embarrassing, for example talking to strangers, lots of strangers, or asking a question about my vagina in front of a room full of people. When I am alone, my curiosity and my big mouth set my itinerary.
On New Year’s Day I crawled out of bed after one hour of sleep, fumbling the phone to make yet another attempt to find a taxi to take me to the airport. Yes, I managed to not pre-book a taxi on one of the highest demand nights for cabbies; it was nothing but busy signals. I had to resort to a trick a friend taught me, I called the valet at a local hotel who sent one of his buddies over to pick me up. (Note: I owe Chad some Top Pot donuts) We had a great time swapping bad driver stories as he expertly dodged the bobbing and weaving cars still dominating I-405 at 4:30am. Yes, I do know that a 7am flight on New Year’s Day is unnecessarily punitive. Especially since most of LA was still asleep when I arrived and the sweet nap I promised myself would not be available until check-in time, eight hours later. I dumped my luggage at Palihouse Hotel with naïve hopes for early check in…right, because people just love to get an early start on New Year’s Day….not. Instead I had breakfast surrounded by people who looked really familiar, it felt like a high school reunion, everybody looked liked someone I knew but I just couldn’t put names to faces. You’ll be relieved to know that I did not actually say “you look familiar…” even one time all weekend. I foolishly let the waitperson order his favorite meal for me, which resulted in me being the only person in the entire restaurant facing a plate of melted cheese and eggs with yolks, PLUS other carbs. Eating that chipotle scramble felt ironic and naughty, much the same as eating ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser.
Afterwards I walked back towards the loud coffee shop I was told had a TV in hopes that I might catch the first broadcast moments of the Oprah Winfrey Network. Ha! A group of Entourage lookalikes still cluttered the front porch, chain-smoking while wearing sunglasses, sports jackets and over-priced denim. As I approached the sleaziest looking one yelled “Hey Sweetheart!” He is so very lucky that I like Oprah even better than I like filleting assholes, I was on a mission, it was almost noon and I had shows to watch. I flung myself into the melee of Barney’s Beanery, fully expecting that I should simply redirect the surly, entrenched crowd at a 90 year old bar/coffee shop to switch the channel from football to the Oprah Winfrey Network. Instead, I had a Bellini and pondered wandering out to the porch to pick a fight. An hour and some new friends later, I was cozy on a sofa in the very cool lobby of Palihouse ready to take a public nap until I was “relocated” to allow the lobby to fully recover and return to its former glory after some the New Year’s festivities. I hit the road and took a driving tour of LA’s residential neighborhoods and shopping areas and did a practice run to Paramount Studios where I would spend all day Sunday. By the time I checked into my room I had gotten my second wind and used it to sail through dinner, another happy cabbie chat, and an emergency trip to CVS for a phone charger and free guilt wine from the very cool hotel staff.
When I finally fell into bed facing an exposed brick wall, I briefly considered lighting the cool candle that sat mocking me on the nightstand next to my wine glass; it would have been perfect except for $60 price tag. Instead I fell asleep to the soothing sounds of Oprah’s voice…it’s like the same thing.
Tomorrow: Behind The Scenes at Ask Oprah’s All Stars and what you should know about Mark Burnett’s hair…