It was October 2020, and my accomplice and I had been lucky to be on distant groups that had weathered the preliminary COVID fallout. Seven months of working in shut quarters was taking its toll, however we had been speaking about long-term plans and looking for a home collectively. Despite the pandemic setbacks, every little thing was going my manner.
After 10 years as a copywriter, I used to be toying with the thought of leaving my job to construct my very own follow as a enterprise coach. I used to be anxious about it ― so anxious that it took me the higher a part of 4 months to work up the braveness to show in my discover. Six days after that, my accomplice stated the phrases that turned my world the wrong way up.
“There’s no easy way to say this, but I don’t love you the way you love me.”
It got here as a whole shock, particularly when he instructed me he’d secretly purchased our home on his personal, behind my again. He’d later guarantee me he felt doubly dangerous, shopping for the one he knew I actually needed.
The subsequent day he was packing his stuff and shifting out. I’d gone from having an ideal job, a loving accomplice and a strong plan for the longer term to no job, no accomplice, no home and no concept what to do subsequent.
The subsequent few days are a blur. According to him, the simplest resolution was for me to take over the lease to our townhouse after he moved out, however one thing about that suggestion made me livid. He had all of it deliberate out a bit of too neatly for me to consider it hadn’t been on his thoughts for longer than he let on.
I immediately knew I used to be not going to proceed residing in what had been our place. But the place to go? Unfortunately I hated each choice I had; one thing in me rebelled in opposition to the thought of being caught with the alternatives he left me.
In the depths of my grief, I remembered that I’d all the time needed to journey. Yet each time I bought right into a critical relationship, my accomplice didn’t wish to journey or couldn’t get day off work to take action. Back then, I used to be nervous concerning the concept of going solo, so I by no means did. That left me feeling like there have been a number of locations I’d by no means see… no less than not so long as I used to be ready round for somebody to go together with me.
So I did one thing neither of us anticipated … I created a brand new choice for myself.
With no actual plan apart from getting the hell out of Dodge, I offered my furnishings, gave away most of my possessions and resolved to spend the subsequent yr or two exploring the nation in the hunt for a spot that felt like dwelling. I had an concept of all of the locations I needed to go to at the back of my thoughts and knew precisely the place to start out.
I booked a spot in New Orleans for six weeks ― that felt like sufficient time to settle in and see quite a lot of issues and get to know the neighborhood whereas nonetheless with the ability to work on my teaching enterprise. Then I packed my cat Stella into my Kia Soul and hit the highway for probably the most transformative experiences of my life.
When I arrived in New Orleans, I had no concept what to do. I rapidly fell right into a routine; in the course of the day I’d work on freelance and consulting initiatives, and at evening I’d turn into one with the sofa, ordering in and comfort-binging comfortable films on Netflix.
Eventually I bought pissed off. What’s the purpose of touring to a brand new metropolis in the event you’re simply going to reside on another person’s sofa?
I began researching sights to see and eating places to attempt, an effort that was made much more difficult with COVID capability restrictions and masks mandates. Did I point out I began this pre-vaccine? In reality, I’d booked my place in New Orleans smack-dab in the course of Mardi Gras, however the parades had been all canceled that yr.
One random Wednesday night, I threw warning to the wind and visited a restaurant known as La Petite Grocery on Magazine Street, the place I had top-of-the-line meals of my complete life. By the top of the meal, I felt much more human. On a whim, I requested my server the place to go subsequent.
That’s how I stumbled onto my favourite solution to journey and discover ― speaking to an enthusiastic native (or somebody who loves the city you’re visiting) and getting their prime picks for what to see. When you get to the subsequent place, rinse and repeat.
In New Orleans, I made a decision I needed to see cities identified for music and the humanities. As I bought near the top of my six weeks in NOLA, I booked the subsequent six-week keep in Memphis, Tennessee.
That turned my methodology ― shortly after arriving in a metropolis, I’d pull up a map and see what was inside a four- to six-hour drive (to restrict Stella’s time within the automotive). From Memphis, I spent six weeks in Nashville, then Asheville, North Carolina. Then I headed south to Atlanta and Savannah, and rounded out my first yr on the highway in Florida.
In Memphis, I noticed the day by day march of the well-known Peabody geese and took an order of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken to Mud Island to see a full-scale mannequin of the Mississippi River. In Asheville, I misplaced time sitting on the base of High Falls, marveling on the tranquility of a spot the place the water roars. In Atlanta, I did llama yoga (as a lot yoga as one can realistically do with a llama in your area).
Eventually I ended doing any analysis in any respect on the locations I used to be visiting, opting to spend that effort on discovering a great Airbnb to make use of as a base and wing it as soon as I arrived. With a planning committee of strangers and an perspective of “Let’s see what happens,” I threw myself into going with the circulation.
When I hit the highway, I used to be afraid it could be lonely and scary, particularly whereas coping with breakup grief. But a stunning factor occurred: The deep loneliness I’d been secretly scared would comply with me from place to put by no means really confirmed up. It turned out to be probably the most pretty, enlightening, connecting-on-a-human stage experiences of my life ― and it gave me a number of hope in a time when every little thing felt fairly hopeless.
Often mates would attain out and ask if I knew a specific particular person within the metropolis I used to be visiting. Whether or not I did, I’d ask for an intro and invite them to satisfy up for espresso or be a part of me on certainly one of my adventures. Even once I knew nobody, I’d hang around with my Airbnb host or with locals I met alongside the way in which. I keep in mind one evening in Flagstaff, Arizona, at a spot known as Fat Olives, when these of us on the bar handed round our pizzas so everybody may attempt a unique slice.
I additionally got here to treasure my alone time, one thing I by no means anticipated since I hadn’t actually lived on my own earlier than. Up till my mid-30s, I’d all the time had a mixture of household, romantic companions or roommates. Before I met my ex, I’d lived in my very own place for 9 months, however I used to be both working across the clock or intentionally planning outdoors the home ― something to keep away from being alone with my ideas.
If you went again in time and instructed Angie from 2020 that she’d be single and touring solo across the United States, I’m positive she’d take a look at you such as you had misplaced your thoughts. That Angie knew the place she was going and had the entire path mapped out, together with a loving accomplice and the lovable home within the suburbs.
Now I’ve spent the final three years residing on the highway and visiting all of the locations within the United States that I may by no means persuade previous companions to go see.
As speaking to finish strangers has turn into a part of my journey routine, I’ve observed the conversations go surprisingly deep in a short time. Most typically, I’d get requested why I made a decision to turn into a digital nomad. I normally share a short synopsis of the breakup and the way it led to my option to journey, they usually normally share their very own story of grief and restoration. More than as soon as, somebody has instructed me, “I wish I could travel like you.”
I can’t say I’m glad I bought dumped, however I’ve realized that there’s transformation in devastation. Traveling has taught me a lot about myself and concerning the world, classes I by no means would have realized if my plan for myself hadn’t fallen aside. Looking again, it was the most effective factor that might have occurred to me.
Do you have got a compelling private story you’d wish to see revealed on HuffPost? Find out what we’re searching for right here and ship us a pitch.