I had been traveling for fifteen days, I was a bit fatigued, and dare I say, even a little bit jaded. As I sat in the chilly morning air, sipping on my second espresso and puffing on my third cigarette, I was a bit lost. It wasn’t as big as I had imagined, “what would I do all day?” I couldn’t believe that I was feeling lonely, I should have been so happy to be wandering free. Hvar is a beautiful and serene island. Another one of Croatia’s stunning locales. I should have been pinching myself. There were no must dos and sees, no one dragging me to monuments or shops that I wasn’t interested in, no negotiating sightseeing vs. cocktails. Here I was on this glorious island with nothing but amazing views surrounding me. But I did feel it, the familiar pull of loneliness, peppered even with some despair. The ferry wasn’t coming back until 8:00 pm. It was only 9:30 am.
I fancy myself a pretty decent solo traveler, willing and able to trek around and figure things out on my own, and enjoy the privilege of being the sole beneficiary of my impluses. But this day my focus was solely on those couples and families that seemed to have an agenda, and each other. I couldn’t stomach another map.
I looked around, it was such a picturesque scene; the marina, stunning water views, an old town and preserved buildings, beautiful in their degradation. Protected, nurtured and cared for. Maybe that is what was bothering me? Who was protecting me? Who cared for me? There it was again. The loneliness crept up like an old friend you no longer like, but can’t help but feel a sense of comfort in their company. I stopped on the square which I had already passed several times that day, it was at least time to have something to eat. This time, I swapped my espresso for wine, and lit up another cigarette.
The heat had kicked in, and I had managed to find a spot to read on a rocky beach just escaping the nominal charge for a lounge chair. What a scene this was, as if in the middle of my own movie. One where the main character is being chased by something; hinted at, but not quite revealed. Translation; a semi neurotic, paranoid lead.
Now as the loneliness charged its way toward me, I retreated. Ducking into a side street to see where it would take me; it was only 2:30. Just missed a massage time, okay, onward. The loneliness kept following me. Like a needy child, it was calling my name, tugging at my pant leg. “Leave me alone!”
Desperate in my getaway, I spotted a new rocky beach on the opposite side of the island, too late for a day’s boat ride. Now well acquainted with the cost of even the most mundane daily activity, I skillfully sidestepped the old leathery woman collecting money for beach chairs. I laid down my towel, a bit rocky, but I would make it work. I nestled into the ground, and as I looked around, I saw the couple next to me napping, intertwined. Refusing to give in to the desire to lament my solo state, I opened up my book and began to read. “It’s only 3:30” I thought, plenty of time...