My Scrambled Nest

An Almost-Empty Nest Journey of "Letting Go" With Laughter and Love, By Cathy Free

For the first time in years, I took an out-of-town trip last weekend that wasn’t work or family related. My solo mini vacation in San Francisco was all about me, and now that I’ve returned, I’m already looking at the calendar and wondering, “OK, when’s the next one?”

As a journalist, I’ve never been shy about traveling alone. It comes with the territory. I’ve hiked alone in deep woods to find people living off the grid; I’ve stayed by myself in isolated motels that make The Bates Motel look like The Mandarin Oriental; and I actually relish “table for one” dining. (I have a couple of rules: Take a good book, always order a cocktail or two, eavesdrop on other diners’ conversations and never leave without having dessert.)

Traveling solo for pleasure, though, is as rare as a comfortable ride in coach. So after a rough year, when my husband and two teenagers presented me with a Christmas gift of four days in my favorite American city in my favorite boutique hotel, my first thought was, “How will this affect the kids’ school schedules?”

“Can you afford to miss two days?” I asked my daughter.

“Hey, I’m not going,” she replied. “None of us are. This trip is for YOU.”

“Really? Well, yippee ki-yay!” I told everyone. “But you’re taking a risk. What if I don’t want to come back?”

I was kidding, of course. Sort of. Everyone knows that if I could afford it, I’d move to San Francisco in a heartbeat. The fresh air, the fabulous dining and shopping, the sparkling skyline, the diverse neighborhoods and the liberal vibe…what’s not to love?

For three nights, anyway, I turned my charming room at Cornell Hotel de France into my own pied-à-terre, neatly arranging my clothes and jewelry in an antique bureau, buying a bouquet of flowers for the nightstand and hanging one of my silk scarves over the lampshade. Since there was nobody else’s schedule to consider, I didn’t use an alarm clock, I ate when I felt like it (skipping breakfast and moving straight into lunch, then having dinner at 8 or 9), and I sprawled on the bed in my PJs and socks, popping M&Ms into my mouth and laughing at late-night comics until long after midnight.

I have to admit that I even jumped on the bed a few times, but let’s keep that a secret, shall we? What happened in Room 401 stays in Room 401. Along with the broken box springs. 😉



4 thoughts on “Flying Solo

  1. I have been toying with the idea of taking a solo trip myself this winter. I don’t know what’s holding me back. I don’t mind flying solo. I don’t mind staying in a hotel alone. I would LOVE to do things on my schedule (or no schedule!). Maybe I will start with a solo dining out …..dessert included!

    1. Cathy Free says:

      Go for it! ☺️

  2. Loretta says:

    What a wonderful gift from your family! SF is my favorite city too. I used to want to live there, but not so much any more.

    My husband and I were even married at city hall there! So cool.

    Glad you had a lovely time.

    1. Cathy Free says:

      Thank you, Loretta! Wouldn’t it be nice to make these trips a quarterly thing? ❤️

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