This is not the first time I have found myself alone in a place packed with people, wishing I had someone to talk to. My first solo, like completely solo, trip was to Iceland last year, followed immediately with a three-day jaunt in both London and Paris. As I walked the streets of London (at top speed), I wished I had someone with whom I could share all of the fantastic thoughts and observations I had. When I was an attempted pick-pocketing victim along la rive droite, I had no one to whom I could tell my story.
Now, I’m in Disneyland. Land, not World; there is a huge difference. I’ve spent the last several weeks interning in Death Valley National Park, and I planned this excursion before I knew how much I’d miss the dry heat and friendly environment of the park. That’s not to say I’m not having fun because I’m enjoying myself quite a bit. I’ve always loved thrill rides and junk food, so this is the mecca of both of those things.
It’s mid-June and humid, but the temperature is about 30-40 degrees cooler than what I’ve been living in. I spent one day in Disney California Adventure and I’m on my second day in Disneyland proper. I have spent a cumulative 40+ hours roaming about these parks and am exhausted. I have done every typical Disney-goer thing there is to do: I have had a dole whip in the tiki room, I’ve ridden every major ride in both parks at least twice, and I attended the Main Street Electrical Parade. Between all of these happenings, I’ve also done a tremendous amount of thinking.
As I look around at families from all over the world, just-married couples wearing matching Mickey ears, and just-graduated teens wearing their grad night wristbands, it seems as if they all have very valid reasons to be here. Then there’s me. I’m not old by any means, but I’m also not a child. And I’m alone. It is incredible how many times the cast members assume that I’m with the people standing (too closely) behind me. Their brains automatically assume that I cannot be in “the happiest place on Earth” by myself. I had to make a reservation for one at a sit-down restaurant where all of the other chairs were eventually stolen from my table to make room for the parties of twenty.
I am not who the wait staff wants to serve as they’ll get a bigger tip from a bigger party. I am not who anyone expects to spend time alone in the crowded pathways of Disney parks. I’m a pretty, young woman who should surely have a friend, if not a significant other, to go places with. It doesn’t make sense to anyone, even me sometimes, why I would want to travel alone. Without the pressure of acting or thinking a certain way with another person, I can be myself entirely. I can be my most judgmental self when looking at other people and how they handle situations. I can be my most child-like and easy-going self when taking in the sights of the castle and characters walking by. There is no one there to internalize my actions other than a few thousand strangers and me.
I love spending time with people, anyone really. I thrive on the presence of people; I am my best when I have to constantly be aware of what comes out of my brain and mouth. However, people also hinder my ability to do what I want when I want. I have some amount of consideration for other people’s wants and needs, so it’s difficult to do everything I want when I have the influence of someone else in the car with me/walking next to me. There is a dichotomy in my mind between wanting the freedom of being alone and the security of being in a group and I can’t seem to reconcile my preferences.