Leaving Behind the (Wo)Man in the Mirror
Somebody recently asked me, “Why on Earth would a woman like you go on a rafting vacation?”
Of course, women like me want to know what people mean when they refer to “a woman like me.” I know what I see and think when I look in the mirror. But other people’s perceptions are often a mixed bag. And his response was no exception.
“You know,” he said, “middle aged (gee, thanks), successful (not sure about that one), single (a fact) and attractive (wow, thanks!).”
His remarks immediately reminded me of the answer to his original question. There’s a reason why vacations are called “getaways.” We want to get away from reality—not just the chores and responsibilities of everyday life, but from the person that people expect us to be (for good or for bad)… including the person we expect ourselves to be.
Personally, I jump at every opportunity to leave my day-to-day persona behind. On a river trip, I leave it ALL behind: my trusty but ever-present iPhone, the inane Facebook posts I addictively check several times a day, workplace stress and a social life that sometimes has a drama of its own.
On the river I’m uncharacteristically low key, low maintenance, a bit unkempt and most importantly sans make-up. I don’t give a hoot about what I look like, how many days I’ve been wearing the same sweatshirt, the last time I used a razor or how many nails I’ve chipped. I’m so anti-Tricia, I’m not even sure if my coworkers would recognize me. (Thank you O.A.R.S. for not providing mirrors on the trip. So many other amenities, but not mirrors. But, I do have one confession: that “ChapStick” I keep in my duffle bag is really an $18 tube of Buxom Lip Plumper. A girl can only give up so much.)
So when friends ask to see pictures of my river trips, I usually say something casual like, “I wouldn’t want to bore you.” When I’m actually thinking, “There’s no way in hell will I let you see me like that.”
But that’s the beauty of the outdoors! I don’t go on a rafting vacation for the photos. I go for the complete and utter change of scenery, lifestyle, state of mind and the ever-elusive opportunity to not have to make decisions. I don’t have to think about what to wear, what’s for dinner, or who will be insulted if…
A woman like me spends a week on a river because, frankly, it’s hard to be me sometimes. And for a few days I get to trade in my mirror for the beauty of some magnificent outdoor setting, let the amazing river guides take care of me, and immerse myself in the bliss of carefree anonymity. And as I sit back and reflect on life, I try very hard to ignore the reflection smiling back at me on the water.