The first time I stayed in a hostel it was not because my family encouraged me. My older son couldn’t believe it, questioning my rationale with, “Mom, you’re gonna stay in a hostel with axe murderers?” and then my younger son said, “Aren’t you too old to stay there? I thought they were for college kids.” I was fifty-two and wondering if he was right. I wanted to take my solo journey to Martha’s Vineyard and the only way I could afford it was to stay in the hostel that was twenty-seven dollars a night. I would make it work if it meant a week on that spectacular island.
It was an adventure just getting there: by plane to Logan, chartered bus to Wood’s Hole, ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, island shuttle bus to the hostel. A staff member with Hostelling International, who was probably older than me, was working at the desk when I checked in. He showed me around the sprawling two-story hostel that had been a farmhouse years before. Since it was mid-June, I was staying before the busy season and wouldn’t share my dorm room until the weekend.
After I put my things away in my cubby, I made a cup of peppermint tea and took it to the sitting room. A man, who appeared to be in his thirties, was lying on the sofa reading. I sipped my tea and knitted, trying to settle into my temporary home. After a while, he sat up and said hello, then asked what brought me to Martha’s Vineyard.
“I’m here on my yearly solo journey. I’ve been wanting to visit this area,” I told him.
“Mam, do you mind if I ask where you’re from?”
Mam, OUCH! I must be too old to be here, I thought, then told him I was from North Carolina.
“I moved here from South Carolina. Been here too long. It’s so nice hearing your Southern accent.”
From that point on when he saw me he stopped to chat.
Over the weekend, the house filled up with a variety of guests: students and teachers from a private high school near Boston, cyclists biking the island to prepare for a race, recent engineering graduates from a college in Ireland. A young married couple from Boston had biked from the ferry landing with their two-year-old son. The mother sat near me one morning in the kitchen while her husband took their boy outside. Between sips of coffee, she told me how she needed a break.
“I love staying home with my son,” she said. “But sometimes I miss adult conversation.” She explained that her husband had long days at his internship at MIT. She missed her home in Texas.
“Yeah, I remember those days and how tiring they can be,” I told her.
“It’s so nice hearing your voice,” she said. “Reminds me of how much I miss my mom.”
Her husband came in with their son, and the young mother got up to join them. “It was so nice meeting you,” she said and gathered her things.
The Irish boys looked puzzled with the directions over the griddle.
“Need some help?” I asked, then showed them how to use the pre-made batter, cautioning them to watch closely so they wouldn’t set off the smoke alarm like I had.
By my last day at the hostel, I felt a sense of satisfaction as part of that international community of travelers. It had been a wonderful base for exploring the towns and shoreline of Martha’s Vineyard. How glad I was that I’d taken a chance on the hostel and had been enriched by the people in my path. And perhaps I’d made a role for myself as a ‘Hostel Mama,’ providing some much needed mothering for children far from home.
More pictures posted on my Author Facebook page – Saved by Sedona
What about you?
Have you ever thought of trying something new but were afraid you wouldn’t fit in, were making a mistake, or may look foolish?
How did you proceed? Were you pleased with how things turned out?