Solo travel is a hobby that I’ve been trying to pick up over the past few years. There’s something satisfying about going to a completely new city where you don’t know a soul and conquering it. I don’t mean conquering in the Tony Montana sense, more along the lines of having an experience that you could only have there, and coming out on the other end alive. It’s tough because my budgeting skills for my rampant drinking habits and rent are terrible. To even consider a “solo weekend in San Diego” feels daunting.
With that in mind, when my company presented me with an opportunity to travel to Phoenix I couldn’t pass it up. With my flights and lodging paid for, there was no way in hell that I wasn’t going to tack on an extra day to check out the city. I could not stifle my excitement. I mentioned this upcoming trip frequently in prior columns, mostly because I write about what I know and things that fire me up. Once I published this column I received an email from a PGP reader.
Note: From here on down, all names of people have been changed. The places are real, and really dope.
Her name is Lizzie. She was reaching out to me because she wanted to buy me a drink while I was in town. Forewarning: she’s into divey, hole-in-the-wall bars. You know, the local stuff. Knee jerk reaction? Find this woman on any form of social media. Normally I’m pretty good at finding people, but this is significantly more difficult when you don’t have a clue as to what this person looks like.
Sure, there’s always the off chance that I could get skin suited by the end of the weekend, but how often does that actually happen? Plus, I could share my location from my iPhone with my friends. Then, if it goes south, they’ll know the approximate location of my corpse. On the flip side, if it goes well, they get to see how dope of a time I’m having on vaycay. And if it goes really well, I could explain to them why I was in a residential area in Tempe at 3:00 in the morning.
After a little more contemplation I emailed her back and told her that I would be thrilled to meet up with her.
We were set to meet at a bar called Gilligan’s in Scottsdale at around 8:00 p.m. That gave me all day to explore the culture and natural setting that the southwest has to offer. And by that, I mean I got day drunk at Pedal Haus Brewery in Tempe and went to In-N-Out Burger. When you have all day to prepare for a meeting with a stranger you met on the internet, there are a lot of thoughts that go through your head. What if I’m getting trolled? What if they peer pressure me into doing meth? What if I black out and miss my flight tomorrow? What am I getting myself into here?
My Uber pulled up to Gilligan’s and I took a deep breath as I exited. I don’t know why I was so nervous. I meet up with strangers from Bumble and Tinder all the time, but this was different. This wasn’t a date. This was a stranger who went out of their way to meet me at a bar that was (apparently?) themed after Gilligan’s Island, complete with kitschy nautical décor, a swing, and a bar specifically dedicated for dwarfs and midgets. That’s not something that people normally do. Or do they? I’m not sure.
Either way, I was greeted at the door with a $1 jello shot. I took it to the nearest open high top table and tipped it back. I pulled out my phone and scoured the room looking for women sitting by themselves. Luckily, I had one text from Lizzie. She said she was sitting at the bar, but I couldn’t see anyone sitting by themselves. I looked and looked, texted her that I was there and told her what I was wearing. Then, almost on cue, the giant group of people swarming another high top parted, the music slowed down, the lights dimmed, and I saw her. The only woman sitting at the bar alone, checking her phone and looking up right at me. She smiled. I smiled.
And holy shit, she was absolutely gorgeous. This was going to be interesting. .