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This post is part of a series about my own personal dating experiences before I met and married Marc.  I may be a newlywed now, but just a few years ago I never thought I would be anything but single, and I hated it.  When I was struggling I didn’t feel like there was anyone who could truly understand.  I was single, I didn’t want to be single, but I also wanted to be happy in my present life.  My hope with this series is to give people who feel the way I felt hope, no matter where their lives might take them.

I spent all of my 20s building a career as a TV sports anchor and reporter.  That meant a lot of new jobs, a lot of moving around the country, and the constant task of having to make new friends.  I was always starting over.

It also meant a lot of work and zero vacations.  For real.  I would travel home to Minnesota to see my parents and to San Francisco to see my brother, but that was it.  I didn’t take my first vacation (since college) until I had been working in New York City for a year and a half and was 32 years old.

After that vacation (which was far from perfect, as my girlfriend Jeané will remember all too well!) I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to travel and enjoy a break from work.  I vowed I would make vacations a thing.

There was just one problem.  As I got older my friends were all getting married or in serious relationships and if they were going to travel it was going to be with that significant other.  Meanwhile, my few single friends were almost all in the TV business as well and coordinating time off was nearly impossible.

It left me with all these vacation dreams, and no realistic travel partner.

So, I decided to go on my own.  It was a little scary and overwhelming at first so, I started with something familiar.  I booked a quick three-night trip to Mexico at a resort where I had stayed with my mom several months prior

The night before leaving I had a little breakdown.  I was really upset about something silly (don’t even remember what it was) and called my mom to tell her I was so upset.  That turned into me crying and wailing about how I was going to Mexico by myself because I had no one in my life and I would most likely die alone.  Yeah, good talk.

But once I got off the plane the next day and stepped into the sunshine I felt much better.  My adventure had begun!  And there was something about doing it on my own that made me feel empowered.

Then I got to the resort.

For the most part everything was wonderful!  But the staff didn’t quite know what to do with me.  A single woman all alone at a romantic resort in Mexico?  What the hell was going on here??

Every time I had a meal I had to repeat that it was a “table for one” about three times because the hosts simply didn’t understand.  After about 24 hours word must have spread that there was this strange single woman wandering around the resort because I began to have workers come up to me and say things like, “are you really here by yourself?”.  And, “why are you alone? Where is your husband?”. And my personal favorite, “why don’t you have a husband?”.

What began as amusing quickly turned annoying.  But eventually everyone calmed down and realized there was nothing to see here, just a single lady, so let’s all move along.

About a year and a half later I decided to do it all again.  I was in desperate need of a break from the New York City winter and the beach was calling my name.  So, I went back to Mexico, once again by myself, but this time to a completely new resort.

For the most part I was left alone by the staff (thank goodness!) and I actually began to enjoy the “me time”.  I would wake up early, go to the gym, have breakfast, then claim a good spot at the pool all by 9:30 in the morning.  I’d hang out wherever I wanted, get in plenty of reading, choose my dinner restaurant, grab a quick drink afterward, and then slide back into bed before it was even 10:00 that night.  It was glorious!

I love traveling with Marc now, but I do have to say there was something very special about that trip.  It was completely on my own terms.  Everything I did was chosen by me and I never had to worry if it was what someone else really wanted to do.  I also began to appreciate the power that comes with that type of freedom.  My vacation, like my life, was truly my own.

My final night at the resort I went about my routine as usual, choosing to have dinner at the resort’s Mexican restaurant.  Shortly after I ordered a couple was seated at the table next to me.  The guy looked about my age while the woman was a bit younger and very pretty.  But let me say, she was also pretty awful!

I had to stop myself from laughing at almost everything that came out of her mouth.  She was all about her looks, could barely hold a legitimate conversation that wasn’t about her hair or how much she loved The Olive Garden, and then lied about how much guacamole she stuffed in her face when the guy got up to use the bathroom.  (She actually claimed the waiter came and took some away.)

Sure, it was all amusing, but it also started to make me feel a little hopeless.  The guy was good looking and seemed pretty normal and yet he chose to be with this woman.  If that’s what men were looking for then I was in trouble!  For the first time on that trip I felt sad that I was alone.

When I finished my meal I left, planning to stop by the bathroom before grabbing a final quick drink at the outdoor bar.  I had just made it down the hall and was pushing open the door to the restroom when someone rushed up behind me asking if I could chat for a minute.

It was the guy from the restaurant.  He told me he was on the first date from hell and that the woman he was with was a nightmare!  It turns out he was at the resort with some friends and had just met her that day when they decided to have dinner together.  The guy apologized for bothering me but handed me his phone number on a napkin and said to let him know if I’d want to hang out while we were at the resort.  I just laughed and wished him luck on the rest of his date.

I never called because I didn’t need to.  Just knowing what happened restored some of my faith in myself and the dating scene.  Plus, it didn’t say much about his character that he would chase down a woman and ask her out while on a date with another woman.  No matter how terrible that other woman may have been!

I did keep that napkin in my bag for a few months though, looking at it whenever I needed a reminder that things aren’t always as they seem.

I headed back to New York City the next day feeling refreshed and happy.  I still had plenty of issues about being single that I would need to deal with, but that trip was a start.  Those four days helped me turn a corner on how I viewed my single life.

About a month later I would finally start to see the life before me in the same way I saw that trip—filled with adventure and possibilities that were all up to me and within my control.  For the first time in my life I looked at a potential single life as being a great life.

Six weeks after that realization I met Marc.

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