On January 21st 2018, as I prepared to launch Empowered Wanderer, I wrote down various titles for future posts. One such title was: “On Leaving Your Drink Unattended.” Now, we are nearing the end of July 2018 and I am ready to write this post!
I recently took a trip to Colorado where I faced the all too familiar dilema: drink my glass of wine slowly and sit uncomfortably holding in my pee, OR, leave my glass unattended and make a dash for the restroom. To make the situation even more risky, I was in an airport, waiting for a delayed flight and I felt totally vulnerable in a bar full of men. The only woman within a 10 foot radius was the bartender.
Living in the age of social media I took to the internet to decide for me.. great idea I know. In any case, I sent some friends a snap asking for their advice. I received varied responses, from “oh girl, I know that struggle” to, “chug your wine and then order another glass after you pee,” but the response that resonated most with me was an option I had already considered. The bartender. She could just keep an eye on my glass, or better yet, stash it behind the bar for a minute.
So, my decision was made. But for whatever reason I felt a twinge of shame, as I stood up to ask the bartender to keep my glass safe. Thoughts raced through my mind, “you should’ve planned this better...always use the restroom before ordering a drink,” and “you’re being ridiculous, you can just leave your glass out and it will be fine.”
However, in my gut I knew if I left that glass on the table and stepped away, even for a moment, I would be unable to return and take another sip. So, I let my shame go and walked up to the bar. I locked eyes with the bartender, pushing my way between two men and said, “I need to run to the restroom and I don’t want to leave my glass unattended, would you mind keeping it behind the bar for me?”
I had watched this woman take care of her patrons, watched the kind smile on her face and the knowing look in her eyes. I was absolutely sure she would happily take my glass, call me sweetie and give me a reassuring nod. But as soon as the words left my mouth her face washed with confusion. She paused, looked back at my table and asked, “Well are you leaving your bag? I don’t think they’ll clear your drink.”
And then it was my turn. Obviously, I couldn’t see my own expression but I’m sure it was one of utter disbelief. I didn’t have words. It had been so challenging for me to ask for what I needed, to push past the shame, to protect myself, and now this woman, the only woman in the bar, didn’t understand?! I was at a loss.
One of the men I had pushed past to get to the bartender witnessed our interaction. Witnessed the expression on my face, the one I could not see, but know must’ve have progressed into horror at the bartenders inability to understand, because the man looked over to her with annoyance and sighed. He then turned to me and with a kind smile and a shake of his head, said, “I’ll watch your drink, if you’d like.”
I sighed with relief. I didn’t entirely trust this man, but the fact that he understood my concern, that he likely had daughters my age, and honestly, the fact that he was just as annoyed with the bartender as I was provided some comfort. So, I agreed and rushed off to the restroom.
I am thankful I let this man step in and watch my drink, because when I returned from the restroom I was only able to take four more sips of wine in solitude before a man walked over to my table. Not only did he walk over to my table like he owned it, he started telling me about all the money he made and offered me an edible pretty much immediately. Like I’m sorry, what in the actual fuck?! This man was sitting a few tables away from me the entire time I was in the bar. I was sure in that moment that I had made the right decision leaving my drink in safe hands.
As I boarded my plane an hour and a half later I felt grateful to be in one piece, and also total shaken from the entire experience.
Traveling as a woman alone is different. We hear that all the time. We also know it to be true.
So, sure, it’s different. It can feel like a burden to be hypervigilant, to watch over our drinks or cover them with our hands, to carry pepper spray around, or travel in packs (even if you don’t know the other women). But in reality, I think it’s a gift.
Traveling alone gives us the opportunity to sink into our strength. To let go of our shame about caring for ourselves, about asking questions, and about feeling uncomfortable in totally uncomfortable situations. It gives us the opportunity to have a meal and a drink by ourselves and turn creepy dudes away. And it gives us the opportunity to meet folks who still have so much to learn, and those who have much to teach us.
So here’s to old, privileged white dudes (I know weird, right?) who teach uninformed bartenders important lessons, to letting go of the shame society has taught us to harbor, and to glasses of wine raised to our womanhood, our independence and our wild, roaring power!
P.S. Head on over to Empowered Wanderer's Instagram to see more pictures of my empowering trip to the Rockies. See link below!