It’s the time of the semester when one starts thinking about the end of the semester, and how! More than other years, this fall has been something of a grind, not so much because of the teaching or consulting (I’m really quite happy to be so busy), but because it’s such a slog to show up, to really be present for my students every day when there’s so much that feels grim and dire in other parts of my life. Honestly, it’s exhausting.

And so I have hatched a plan to take a little break before the year-end holidays — I’m dreading them more this year than in a long time — to have a week to myself, to think and write and sleep late and discover someplace new. My dear parents are giving me a week’s lodging (a timeshare swap), and the idea is to go to New Orleans.

The thing is, originally the plan was for Mr. Pants to go along, too. And there’s a tiny, remote possibility that he may join me, if we both want him to (jury is still very much out on that one — I’m inclined and disinclined by turns). But I’m chewing over the idea of going on my own anyway.

When I was a young thing, I thought nothing of getting on a train from Paris to Lisbon, where I didn’t really know anyone at all. I packed up and moved to Madrid with little more than two suitcases, $500 and a one-way ticket — no job, no Spanish, barely any contacts. I used to strike out on my own without any worries, full of the thrill of possibility, and with very little consideration for any sort of negative outcome. I was bold.

Now that I’m past the stage of young and carefree, I wonder if I can still travel on my own. I wonder if I’ll be open to the possibility of meeting new people and experiencing what comes my way, or if I’ll feel too timid to take any risks at all… Will I be able to reconnect with that boldness, or have I outgrown it?