I haven’t written in a while. I also have not been reading the blogs that I follow. It has been a busy couple months. I am not complaining about it, but, as I often must remind myself, I need to slow down sometimes.
Here’s what’s up…
In May, I took my first solo trip. I went alone, it was not work-related, it was not for continuing education, nor did I know anyone in the city I visited. I had recently been inspired by other women (some significantly younger than me and with less income to plan with) who travel the world alone. Solo female travelers. There is an entire network of them – on Facebook, on Instagram, on Meetup, on Reddit, on Pinterest – and they are fearlessly and joyfully exploring all corners of the Earth. They are #goals. The more I read about their adventures, the more I eagerly wanted to begin my own adventuring.
So I did.
I started close to home, and I started small: Tulsa, Oklahoma. Frank Turner (my favorite musician) was on tour in North America (he hails from England), and for the first time in the eight years that I have been a fan, he did not book a show in Dallas/Ft. Worth. I knew I would have severe FOMO if I did not see him during this tour, so I decided to consider my options to see him elsewhere.
The nearest stops to me were in Houston and Tulsa. Houston… No. Just no. I hate that city. It’s large and crowded with nothing special to offer. I have been there enough times, mostly for sports-related reasons, and I can say that I will be content if I never have to go there again. Ever.
After a little bit of research, I decided that Tulsa would be the PERFECT city for me to venture to alone. It is small, walkable, with plenty to keep me busy during my three-day getaway.
I loved it.
First off, Frank’s show was held at a historic music venue/dance hall and it was on point. It was the kind of night that just… I don’t know. It’s the reason I love music, especially live. Here is an artist that not only writes music that hits me all up in my feels, but he puts everything he has in him into each performance. The energy is indescribable. His fans are my favorite – they are friendly, they do not talk during the show, and they sing along to every lyric. I was front and center at this show, up against the barricade. The ideal spot.
I have been to enough of Frank’s shows to know that he usually ends his set with a particular song, during which he comes off the stage, chooses a fan to dance with, and then makes his way back to the stage via crowdsurfing. He’s cool like that. A few nights before, though, in fucking Alabama, he was dropped while crowdsurfing and injured his back. This meant he wouldn’t be doing his norm that night in Tulsa. Still, I expected him to not play his guitar during this song, and I was right.
It was the perfect opportunity for me to hand him a challenge coin (he collects them) that I had brought from Dallas with me. He took it from me, smiled a ginormous smile when he realized what it was, high-fived me, and later on as he sang “I want you and me to join hands down at the front”, he looked and pointed straight at me and made the whole night even better.
I left the venue that night with $95 worth of merchandise, the show’s setlist, and happiness all in my core. When I posted a photo on Instagram, Frank was quick to give it a like. Aaaaahhhh.
I spent the following days exploring Tulsa. They have the most beautiful art museum with gorgeous gardens that I spent several hours at, even though that had not been my intention. The best part was that it was a weekday so I pretty much had the place all to myself! I also took in a baseball game (the stadium was literally on the next block from my hotel), a beautiful park, the art-deco architecture throughout downtown, a couple more museums, some historical landmarks, and quaint little shops. I could not have asked for a more perfect trip. It went so well that now I am encouraged to take even more solo trips!
We are getting to the part where I tell you why I am going to Germany next year…
It involves Frank. Ha!
You see, Frank now holds his very own four-day music festival each spring: Lost Evenings. Lyrics from one of his songs, I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous, go like this:
Life is about love, last minutes, and lost evenings
About fire in our bellies and furtive little feelings
And the aching amplitudes that get our needles all a-flickerin’
And help us with remembering that the only thing that’s left to do is live
A few weeks after I saw him in Tulsa, Lost Evenings III was held in Boston, Massachusetts. Last year and the year before, the festival was held in England. How exciting that he decided to change locales, right? All throughout the weekend that Lost Evenings was held this year, I kept seeing posts on Frank Turner Facebook groups detailing what an awesome time everyone was having. I lived vicariously through all the people who traveled to Boston for this epic event and vowed to go to it myself next year, regardless of the location, but also hoping that it would be held somewhere in the U.S. again to make it easy on me.
On the last night of Lost Evenings III, my social media feeds were all flooded with the announcement we were all waiting for: Lost Evenings IV – Berlin, Germany – May 2020.
I questioned my ability to pull it off for maybe five minutes, then saw a post on The Solo Armada’s Facebook page.
What’s The Solo Armada? It’s a group of music fans that formed in England in 2017 prior to the first Lost Evenings festival. Basically, it was a bunch of Frank Turner fans who were traveling to and/or attending Lost Evenings alone and agreed to meet up with one another during the weekend. They kept each other company and made each other feel welcome despite being alone. Following that successful weekend, the group continued to have meetups at other concerts and eventually grew to include fans from all across the globe! The biggest meetup of the year, of course, is still Lost Evenings.
So as I debated whether or not I could make a trip to a foreign country across the ocean all by myself, I jumped on Facebook to look through all the posts about Lost Evenings in Boston and remind myself of how amazing it would be to go, especially given the fact that I am such a huge Frank Turner fan! How could I not?!
It was while on Facebook that I read a post by the founder of The Solo Armada, adamantly encouraging anyone with any doubts of traveling alone to just do it. To know that when you get to Lost Evenings, although alone, you will certainly meet plenty of strangers who will help you out and quickly become your friends. That’s what the Armada is all about.
With that, ten minutes and 150-ish U.S. dollars later, my four-day pass to Lost Evenings IV was purchased!
Shortly thereafter, I was added to a Facebook group created for people planning to attend Lost Evenings. I excitedly joined the conversation and announced that not only would it be my first time to attend the festival, but it would also be my first time in Europe and that I would be there alone. As I mentioned, Frank Turner fans are the friendliest, and I immediately got words of encouragement from others. So nice! Then, in another thread regarding lodging, I was invited to stay in a hostel room with seven other Frank fans! A new friend, Francine, is from England and has traveled to Berlin plenty in the past. She is also attending Lost Evenings alone and graciously agreed to help newbie-fellow-solo-travelers out so that we are not completely overwhelmed. Get this: she already booked the hostel for me!
I mean, I can’t go to Europe and not experience staying in a hostel, right?! It’s gonna save me a shit ton of money, too! Why aren’t hostels a thing in the U.S.???
That’s not all. A few days after I had found my Berlin roomie, someone in one of the groups asked if there were any fellow runners who would be attending Lost Evenings. Not surprisingly, within a couple days, yet another group was formed: The Frank Turner Run Club! We will be meeting up to run the streets of Berlin while there for Lost Evenings! Isn’t that exciting? What a fun way to make even more new friends and see the city!
So… it is still ten months away, but I really cannot wait to meet my Berlin roomies, fellow Frank Turner Run Club members, and all the folks from The Solo Armada. This is going to be the trip of a lifetime. I get to explore a foreign city – one with centuries of history (I am a bit of a history nut), I get to make new friends from all over the world, and to top it all off, I get to see Frank Turner perform four nights in a row! My heart is all fluttered just thinking about it.
But ten months is a long time. How about another domestic mini-trip to help further build my confidence in traveling alone?
Hey, Frank. Help me choose another destination. Boulder, Colorado in October to see you during your No Man’s Land tour? Cool.
I love my life.