Letter from a vagabond 18 October 2018 Alone but not lonely…


Robert Surcouf, French Corsair

There is both an aloneness and a sense of exhilaration that comes from traveling alone.  Before I left, I was asked how I could do it? Travel alone?  Mon dieu!

My life has been spent traveling alone from one place to another.  When I was in college, I travelled alone from one place to another to see people. Then, in business, you are thrust into travel to accomplish something.  One has no choice if you are going to do/keep your job. So, I have become familiar with traveling alone.

This is a trip I wanted to make and to do it, I would have to do it on my own.  And here I am.

In Paris, I saw friends; we had dinner twice.

Pierre Alain, a friend of my friend Mary Ann Zimmer, and I had dinner after that and that was the last conversation I had with anyone for several days.

I am my own companion.

My conversations have been limited to people at train stations, those from whom I order food, taxi drivers who are grateful I am carrying a translation app, hotel attendants…

You get the picture.  And I am sure there are people for whom this would be frightening.  It is for me somethings though apps like Google Translate and iTranslate have made it so much easier.

At my hotel in St. Malo, there was a birthday party and people sang “Happy Birthday;” and even if you don’t know the language, it translates.

On the way from a stroll back to my hotel, a woman had a lover’s quarrel on the phone and, that, too, translates.

As I walked through St. Malo, I passed a school and heard the young squeals of a new generation discovering life’s pleasures and it was reassuring.  For a moment, I stood outside and reveled in their joy.

In the harbor, boats rock, and the town is preparing for the Route du Rhum, a race that happens every four years between St. Malo and Guadeloupe.  It is the race’s fortieth year and everywhere you see preparations.  When the race begins, a week or two from now, I will be gone, off to some other place and will watch the results because, having been here, I feel connected.

Before I left, I had a conversation with my good friend of long standing, Larry Divney, and we parsed the difference between aloneness and loneliness.  I am alone, and I am not lonely, blessed with knowing there are lots of people who care.  They are with me even if not physically and, in that confidence, I can wander the world.


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