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Last fall, I dropped my younger son off for freshman year of college in Savannah, Georgia and flew straight to California for a week-long business conference and book event at Elmwood Wealth Management for my new release Mothers Fulfilled.

Drop off went rough….for him….so doubly so for me.

I cried from Georgia to Texas. Everyone around me on the plane was so kind, giving me space, not looking at me as I weeped and gazed out at the sky and clouds that were taking me further and further away. At one point, the stewardess leaned down toward me and quietly said, “Is there anything I can do for you?” I thought of the many reasons her clientele may cry on planes; it’s probably not as unusual as I felt in the moment.

The next day, I had booked a 12-hour bus trip down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Monterey, Pebble Beach, and Carmel. Friends thought the destinations sounded nice, but alone? On a bus? 12 hours? Aaah – I knew it was precisely what I wanted….and it turned out to be precisely what I needed after leaving Ben behind.

The bus was full of people of all ages – young couples, New Zealanders likely in town for the America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay, a 20ish looking British student, many middle age couples like me.

Just the British student and I sat alone – me, in total bliss.

I didn’t speak to anyone all day…and just basked in the scenery and being alone. I wrote in my journal when moved to do so; I read a little of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row that I bought to prepare me for my visit to Monterey, where the story takes place; I explored alone each spot where the bus stopped.

The coast of California is gorgeous….and toward Carmel, not unlike the look of Maine and Acadia National Park with the rocky cliffs, green foliage, and blue ocean. The Highway was winding and offered constant views of the sea, which sparkled. Sandy beaches at the bottom of the cliffs were mostly empty on this Monday – everyone back to school? Summer over and fall begun?

I had my lunch on a deck overlooking the ocean in Monterey at a table for one with a signature Marguerita and a cold shrimp-cocktail type of dish with a spicy ceviche and cilantro – crisp and fresh. I felt like a queen. Some people say they’re embarrassed to eat alone in a restaurant; I don’t feel that way at all. I relish it.

When Ben’s texts came in…and he was doing well…such a quick turnaround…my heart sored and I drank in my surroundings and counted my blessings – so grateful for everything.

California became even more beautiful and the peace inside me swelled.

Photo: Pacific Coast Highway, California

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