I’ve written about my previous solo travel missteps in Miami before, but I recently wrote a travel essay for my aforementioned creative non-fiction class and decided to share it. It’s a funny story, and my family still makes fun of me for this instance to this day. I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to share any of your own solo travel misadventures in the comments below!
Miami, FL was carefully chosen for my first ever solo vacation for its cheap round trip flights from Chicago and its beautiful beachfront hotels. I was twenty-three years old, and desperate to prove my worldliness and bravery. I booked everything without much research and bragged about my solo trip to anyone who would listen.
I flew out of O’Hare and landed in the evening, taking a shuttle to my hotel. I stayed at the Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort which was technically in Sunnyside Isles Beach, just North of Miami proper. The plan was to just lie out on the beach, read, and sip cocktails while I worked on my tan. While I did try to venture out more to explore, I often just got lost and went back to my hotel, defeated.
On my last night in Miami, I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner at the fine dining restaurant in my hotel. I brought a book with me as a shield against the other diners who may feel sorry for me for dining alone. (I’ve since learned that this doesn’t matter at all.) Despite this, the waitress still gave me a pitying look as she took the second set of silverware and water glass off the table.
I tried to play it cool and ordered the special of the day: the lobster. It came with a salad to start, which I happily ate, along with the rolls and butter that were set before me. This wound up being the only thing I would eat for dinner.
When the lobster was placed in front of me, I tried to continue being cool as a cucumber and thanked the waitress. The portion I was served was not solely the lobster tail, as I had enjoyed before, but the whole lobster. I looked around at the other diners near me, but no one in the immediate vicinity had ordered the special as I did.
“Whatever,” I thought to myself. “I went to culinary school. I can figure this out.” I confidently cut into the front end of my lobster, and the green brains came seeping out onto my plate.
I was at a loss. Do I eat the disgusting ooze? I slid my phone out of my purse and took a discreet picture. I sent it to my dad, the resident seafood eater in our family, with the caption “what do I do with this?” My dad promptly called me, and I tried to be nonchalant as I asked him how to eat the monstrosity on my plate. He tried to advise me as to the best plan of attack, but I had to rush him off the phone in the quiet restaurant. I tried to pick at the tail, as my dad suggested, but the majority of it had been tainted by the green brains.
I cut up the lobster and pushed it around on the plate to keep up appearances but wound up filling my stomach with the rolls and butter. After I paid for the dinner I didn’t eat, I went out to the bar by the hotel’s pool. After ordering a PBR Tallboy, I sat poolside and vowed to do better next time.