Solo Travel

Solo at Sundance

“Sundance Main Street” by Angel Hart Wing

“Everywhere is nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.”  ~ Seneca

I’d like to be able to tell you that my four days at the Sundance Film festival were glamorous and exciting.  I’d like to be able to describe to you the exclusive cocktail parties I attended and the titillating conversation I had over white wine with some  of Hollywood’s A-listers. And I’d love to be able to recount to you how James Franco took one look at me and whispered to his bodyguard: “Now, who is that ravishing, curly-haired beauty in the gray ski-cap and Target down-jacket?”

But sadly, I can’t tell you any of this because none of it happened.  The truth is that I spent most of my four days at Sundance wandering aimlessly around the tiny ski village collecting Bath and Body Works hand sanitizer and caffeinated beef jerky samples…completely alone.  I ate alone, window-shopped alone and attended the occasional premiere alone, but mostly I just sipped coffee and paparazzi-watched at the Java Cow.  And when I finally did “meet” James Franco, our conversation can be summed up in two words.

Me:  (spotting him on the theater steps) “Hi.”

Him:  (nodding curtly) “Hey.”

After he walked away, the 14-year-old girl in my longed gush to one of the people trailing out of the theater: “Did you SEE what just happened?”  But that’s the problem with going to the Sundance Film Festival alone…you have no one to share these little moments with.  No friend to turn to in the theater at a world premiere when Orlando Bloom sits five rows in front of you and whisper:  “OMG. That’s Orlando!”  Instead you say this to the elderly woman sitting next to you, and she frowns, “Who?

“There, see in the green cardigan with the yellowish tie? The guy with the short, dark curly hair? That’s Orlando Bloom.”

“Oh him.” She says, spotting him finally.  And then:  “Has he been in anything before?”

Or when you walk out of the theater restroom and can’t help but exclaim to the people standing behind you in line:  “Wow, that port-a-potty is pimped out.” But by the blank look they give you, you can tell that they’re unimpressed by the fact that their outdoor bathroom is the size of a hotel suite.  Perhaps outdoor portable toilets outfitted with mood lighting, Persian rugs, a bowl of complementary breath mints and bouquets of fresh roses are the norm in Hollywood land, but they certainly weren’t like any portable toilet I’d ever seen.  If a friend had been there with me, I’m sure she would have appreciated the oak-framed mirror, porcelain toilet seat, and actual framed pieces of art.  But alas, I was left to ponder the wonders of pimped-out portable toilets  all on my own.

Although I suppose that I should mention that technically speaking, I wasn’t alone alone.  I came to the festival with my dad.  But because he works for a film company, he spent about 10 hours of each day in private, ‘industry-only’ screenings so I barely saw him.

I know that this post might read a little “poor, little rich girl” and I don’t mean to come off sounding ungrateful.  I’m a huge film nerd and being given the opportunity to attend Q&A’s and discussions from some of my favorite screenwriters and directors…was truely amazing.  But I guess it’s like winning the lotto and then going on a million dollar shopping spree by yourself, it’s thrilling at first, but without anyone to share in the excitement with, it just feels hollow. I can now count myself as one of only a few hundred people in the world who’ve seen Mark Ruffalo’s film Sympathy for Delicious, for example.  But besides the bragging rights, what good does this do me?  No one I know has seen the film and unless a studio decides to purchase it, no one I know ever will.

I guess what those four days made startlingly clear for me is this:  I’m tired of being a one-woman traveling show.  I used to pride myself on the fact that I could do things on my own that normal people wouldn’t even dream of attempting solo.  Things like moving to another country or backpacking through the Third World or even just going to see a movie alone on a Saturday night.  My motto in life used to be:  “If no one wants to go with me, I’m not going to let that stop me from going.  It’s better to go alone than not at all.”

But now…now I’m not so sure about that.  Sometimes I feel like all I do with my free time is collect experiences.  Sort of like an art collector might collect original and interesting sculptures, I collect original and interesting life experiences.  And like art, sometimes they’re fun to ponder or show off to your friends, but mostly they just sit there forgotten and collecting dust.

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8 thoughts on “Solo at Sundance

  1. glad i stumbled across your blog! i completely relate to your sentiments here. i think you sound less like “poor little rich girl” and more like a woman who has pushed her limits, built her strengths, gained her independence, and soaked in the world… and can now appreciate sharing the things you love with soul/s you love. or maybe it’s just how i relate to you. 🙂
    ps. don’t forget that your experiences are more than “show and tells” collecting dust. they’re some of the pieces that have made you who are you.

  2. I hear you.

    I almost moved to Brazil about a month ago and it fell through. I am really glad to say the least. I haven’t lived anywhere longer than three years since I was 15, and that was 14 years ago. I have traveled every continent except Australia and definitely the most enjoyable trips were the ones with other people. There is something about wandering the streets of Nice and thinking, “Oh hey, did you see that homeless guy just wash his hair in the fountain?” But the only one you have to tell is your journal. Or standing on top of a mountain you just snow shoed up, and the favorite part of the experience is the people who give you a ride back from the bottom of the slope to your car.

    I am traveled out. I want to stay put for a very long time.

  3. hi…
    It was nice to stumble across your blog on the day when i feel I’m so done traveling alone. I’ve traveled across continents alone, though when i get there, or even while traveling, i always meet interesting people – which doesn’t happen when you are in a group. But sometimes, I wish people were around now. Not more than two and friends at that…
    being grown up and juggling schedules is such a pain!

  4. Awww, thanks for the thoughtful comments, guys! I’m so relieved to hear that other people feel the same way. Sometimes I think that I’m crazy and it’s nice to hear that at least a few people on the Internet don’t think so.

  5. @ Chris. Wow, so well said! You’re a good writer… : ) I’m definitely all traveled out. I used to think that I wouldn’t stop traveling until I’ve seen every country on my list (of about 100). Now it’s almost like I don’t even care anymore. I feel like I’ve seen enough…and if I die tomorrow without ever having visited Egypt…well, whatever. I’m so over it.

    Ha…that’s horrible thing to admit when you run a travel blog…I’m hoping that this is just a slump that I’m going through and that I’ll be back to being gung-ho about travel againsoon. But right now I’m just so freakin exhausted, ya know?

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