Flying Alone

Last week I did something new.  It wasn’t as delicious as trying a new flavor of ice cream, or as adventurous as flying down a zip line.  It wasn’t as bold as a new hair color, or as daring as quitting my job.

Last week I flew alone.  Solo.  No friends, no kids, no spouse, no colleagues.  Just me, my overstuffed suitcase and a carry-on bag full of papers to grade, books to read, and stories to write.

Flying alone meant trying something new.  I could get myself out of the house quickly because all I had to worry about was me. It meant that for the first time in a very long time I didn’t forget a thing.

Flying alone meant it didn’t matter where I stood in the boarding line because it was just me.  I wasn’t concerned about entertaining anyone, or making sure I was close to the window or the bathroom.  It meant I could be the very last person aboard because I had a confirmed seat and I didn’t need overhead luggage space.

Flying alone meant I wasn’t worried about sitting next to a chatterbox or a screaming baby-I had my earphones, my iPod, and a book to bury my face in.  I didn’t even have to check who was sitting in front or behind me, just in case they received an accidental kick in the seatback or a quick seat recline in the face.

Flying alone meant I could actually watch the entire movie from beginning to end without interruption.  My tray table only had my drink on it, and I didn’t worry about elbows flying over to spill it.  It meant could read my book, write an article and listen to music for five glorious hours.  I only had to pack the snacks that I liked, and didn’t have to ration them. And if it wasn’t 7:00 a.m. I could have even indulged in a cocktail without guilt.

Flying alone meant that in Dulles airport I didn’t have to take small companions straight to the bathroom, or wait for anyone to catch up with me.  It meant that I actually had one hand free to maneuver through the shuttle, and arrived first to the baggage claim area.  And when my luggage came off the carousel, I was completely free.

Flying alone meant that the next moves were all mine.  I got to choose what I ate, where I went, and how I got there. It meant I could browse the gift shop and the bookstore for as long as I wanted.

Flying alone also meant that I didn’t have a hand to hold on take-off and landing, or anyone to watch my bags while I went to the newsstand.  It meant that I had to eat lunch alone, and keep my thoughts to myself.

Flying alone also meant that I didn’t have anyone to ask for advice or opinions.  I had to decide which shuttle to use, and how much to tip the driver.  It meant that I didn’t have anyone to exclaim to as I spied the Pentagon or crossed the Potomacfor the first time.

Flying alone meant that I had a lot of time to myself to think.  I had to wonder what my family was doing, and if they got to school on time.  It meant that I couldn’t see their faces as they raced down the ski course or before they fell asleep.

Flying alone made me realize how much I wished I wasn’t flying alone.  It meant that I missed my family.

Next time, I’ll take a kid or two with me.


Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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  1. Jennifer, what a great post! There are definitely many advantages to traveling alone. I relish being in my own company without having to worry of the comfort of this one or the comfort of that one. This summer, Roxy and I are flying solo and I’m very much looking forward to it! Does it make me a terrible person that unlike you, I won’t be dwelling too much on anyone’s who’s left behind? 🙂

  2. Dear Jennifer,
    Always the trade offs. Yes to this, means no to that. Discovering the best of all possible worlds means, in the end, compromise. And so, next time a child…..or even two!


    1. Susan, there was liberty and sadness all rolled up together. Probably kind of silly on my part, but oh well. There is so much to see in D.C. that I kept thinking my son should be seeing it, too!

  3. I’m laughing because knowing you, I had a feeling you were going to end this post that way! 🙂 But I’m sure you enjoyed the solo time while you had it. It DOES make you appreciate what you have but it’s enjoyable to have some alone time all the same. So happy for you!

    1. Yes, you do know me. I wish I could have written that I never wanted it to end, but I found myself watching the moms sitting near me with their little kids, and got kinda misty-eyed. Sigh.

  4. Oh the thrill of being “all grown up” without the family and going solo for a trip! Isn’t it just like us moms to always think the grass is greener? Lol! I totally understand how you felt enjoying the freedom, yet missing them because they are your…everything! 🙂


  5. What a great post! I have to say I love to do things by myself. Maybe because I know that it’s not the norm. That I have a family to go home to, so the moment of alone time is to be treasured and enjoyed, but I don’t live there anymore. I can’t wait to read more about your trip. I had some time by myself last year in DC and I just loved it. It was the first time I had actually seen the White House and I could not get over how “small” it seemed!! Glad your home with your family!!

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