My traveling companion and I drove to the airport (SFO). We checked our bags, ate lunch and then made our way to the gate. Our itinerary was supposed to be as follows: 5 days in Washington DC, 2.5 days in NYC and 2.5 days in Boston. All arrangements had been made at least three months in advance.
We got to the gate and my traveling companion turned to me and said "I think you're going to have to go alone." I turned to him and laughed, and he said "Yes, you're going to have to go alone. I'm not getting on the plane." Then he walked away. Really walked away. As in walked away and walked out of the airport without me.
At this point in the post, it would be an appropriate time to write "WTF???!!!!" but I can't stand the term "WTF??!!" I mean, if you're going to take the trouble to write three capital letters and some question marks/explanation points you might as well do it right:
WHAT THE FUCK????!!!!!
Folks, just do it up right from now on. Don't bother with the three initials. It makes you look like you're trying to go back to your fabled years of mid-adolescence (unless you really are there).
Keep in mind that we were standing in line, holding our tickets and getting ready to board the plane with everybody else. I went to use the ladies room. I was hoping I would come back and he would be back at the gate looking for me, but that did not occur.
I made a single phone call and not knowing what else to do, got on the plane.
Who is this person, my former traveling companion? I'd rather not say, but I will tell you he was not one of useless assholes I've been dating lately. Why did he walk away like that? Turns out he's so claustrophobic on planes that he just couldn't get on board. Why didn't he tell me this earlier? Difficult to say, but I venture to guess that he really thought it was going to be fine, but realized at the last possible minute that he just couldn't do it.
We all have our limitations and phobias and I can't fault him for that.
On the plane, I sat there feeling freaked out. There's no other accurate way to put it. The guy in the same row with me asked if I was all right. I told him no and explained what had just happened only a few minutes earlier. We talked about it and he confessed that he'd never heard of anything like that. The plane was delayed on the runway for a hour because of an electrical problem and I knew my traveling companion had made the right decision. He would have gone nuts.
While sitting there I thought of all the things I could do. I could completely change my trip around. I had almost two weeks off from work and I could go anywhere. After mulling over the possibilities, I decided I would get to DC, collect my luggage, cancel everything and then catch a flight to Rome, Italy. Feeling a bit bright about my new idea, I happily thought about seeing the Vatican, the Coliseum, Florence and Venice. Then I realized I didn't have my passport and knew I wasn't going anywhere outside the U.S. Shit. While waiting to take off, I pictured myself in standing on the edge of the Eastern Seaboard looking out across the Atlantic towards the country shaped like a boot.
Since we were so delayed, I had to run though the George Bush Houston Airport to catch my connecting flight. I almost didn't make it. I can't stand running through airports. The only time worse than that was when I had to sprint through Chicago O'Hare.
I settled myself in my seat on the Houston runway. The surreal aspects of my situation came even sharper into focus. "What the fuck am I going to do?" I said out loud. I decided to take it one step at a time. For now, the next step was to get to Washington DC.
When we planned the trip, my former traveling companion and I had planned the trip around things we both like to do (see museums, aquariums, etc.) and this is a fine way to spend a vacation. The problem I was having was if I had known I was going to have almost two weeks off from work and traveling alone, I would have planned a very different vacation. I would have definitely gone to Italy to see the big three (Rome, Florence and Venice) and I might have even planned a stop to Paris.
I have plenty of experience traveling alone, but I've never traveled alone for this long. I wasn't sure what I was going to do next.