In 2001, I had a nervous breakdown. No need to sugarcoat it. I lost it. I was 22 years old, a receiver of news that changed my entire life–I couldn’t breathe. I was wild-eyed and crazed. All that said, while sitting placidly at work one day, I went on a travel site and booked a 4-day trip to San Diego. Just like that. I chose San Diego simply because I’d always wanted to go to CA as an adult (we went to San Francisco and San Jose when I was a kid) and had no desire to go to LA. I had heard lovely things about San Diego, so it seemed like the place to go. 

My parents were naturally shocked and incensed that I was about to travel to a place I’d never been, unaccompanied and alone, while in the midst of a mental meltdown. But what could they do? Their eldest child was a determined one, even when trapped in such a dark place. Plus I was drowning. Deep down, I think my parents knew that if I didn’t escape, even for a mere four days, I would be consumed. A good friend drove me to the airport; I got on the plane; slept the whole way; and finally arrived in the most beautiful place I had ever seen.

I’ll tell you something: the sky in San Diego looks like a blue Fabergé egg. It just does. It’s like every combination of blue you can imagine, that sky, from powder blue to cerulean. I spent many days looking up at that sky. 

I took a trolley tour and explored this lovely city. 

I asked strangers to take my photo (pre-selfie days.)

I went to La Jolla and died from how incredibly magnificent it was.

I walked with myself. Down sidewalks, in the mall, on the beach.

I went to Hotel del Coronado and marveled.

I stuck my toes into the Pacific Ocean. 

It’s amazing how being in a place can re-wire your mind. Maybe it was the sky, the temperate breeze, being one with my myself, deep in prayer–whatever it was, San Diego saved my life. It just did. A few years later, I went back on my second solo trip to SD, although I was far less tortured than I was the first time in the city. 

But that first trip. Indescribable.

I’m of the mind that every woman should travel alone, at least once. Not necessarily to ease the suffering of a mental breakdown, but to just be alone with herself. You learn a lot.

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