The Solo Jaunt My Soul Was Crying For

by Oui We Contributor Sam Spahr

I’m currently in the research stage of an upcoming family vacation, and as much as I love the words family and vacation, I’ve been dragging my feet a bit on the endeavor. I’m truly a lucky gal; I like my family. Which is a bigger thing than love I think sometimes. We’re together often. We’re friends. We choose to be with one another when we don’t have too, you know? As much as I genuinely enjoy these humans, I think the impending vacation(s) coupled with the extra time we’ve spent together lately has me feeling a little like the proverbial family tree is tightening its limbs around me. It’s made me bit nostalgic for a time when I was a single little leaf living far away from home and traveling alone when I needed.

St. Michaels by Sam Spahr

I’m thinking specifically of when I was in the throws of my graduate study in Baltimore, and I had the opportunity to take a long weekend out of the city, away from my studio or any library. (In the spirit of honesty, I brought my work with me - I'm adventurous, not reckless.) I did a quick search to find a interesting place to land for a few days.

I couldn't go too far, but I still wanted to feel . . . different . . . maybe even inspired, if I could ask that much.

Eastern Shore, MD by Sam Spahr

Shoring Up

An easy drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and I found myself on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. As I headed south down this craggy side of the bay’s turf, I immediately felt the comfort of two lane roads, vague sprawling fields, and antiques for sale. A switch flipped in me. I wasn't even sure of where I was headed - no tourist attraction or famous landmarks drawing me in - but I knew I could not have made a better decision.

Eastern Shore by Sam Spahr
Eastern Shore, MD by Sam Spahr

Easton, Maryland is a thumbprint of a town. It’s sweet and quiet, and where I found the coziest Airbnb to house me for a few nights. Truly, I was blown away by the simplicity and warmth of the space that had once been a corn crib. Yes, meaning it once held heaps of harvested corn and nothing else. After an astute renovation, it stands as a studio style bungalow complete with a small foyer, spa-esque bath, and a kitchenette complete with mystically delicious banana bread fresh baked by the owner waiting for you when you arrive. And no, I was not able to snag the recipe.  

I was able to lose track of time in the property’s quaint courtyard, hunker down with Chinese take-out while I read through my research articles and binged late 90s teen dramas with a bottle of wine. You cannot shame me; I am unshameable because this is what I needed to happen.

Easton, MD by Sam Spahr
St. Michaels, MD by Sam Spahr

Traveling isn’t always about doing

It’s not something I recognize easily though. I often feel the need to keep moving because I don't want to waste time, or that I ought to take advantage of being wherever I am. Yet, this time was different.

I needed to be me, just in someplace new for a little while.

With my base in Easton, I ventured into St. Michaels for fresh air and a fresher outlook on my life, at that time really. A charming waterfront town that necks out into the bay, St. Michaels brought to life many ideas I’ve held about dreamy little (east) coastal towns as a deeply southern gal. Slips stacked with boats were bordered by understated seafood eateries. Walkable shops and historic buildings popped straight out of a storybook or painting, I’m sure. They all validated a piece of my soul that always hoped places like this existed in such splendor, even outside the magic of a television screen.

St. Michaels, MD by Sam Spahr
St. Michaels, MD by Sam Spahr

It’s no wonder St. Michaels has the reputation as one the most romantic towns in the country. I distinctly remember feeling joy just floating around in the air there. Nowhere pressing to be, no one else needs to consider, I walked aimlessly around for hours in some state of pure bliss. Maybe the locals were concerned about some chick waltzing around with a dopey smile on her face, in and out of every street, shop, and sidewalk, but who cares. I was damn happy. And isn’t that worth everything?

So, I’ll get on wrapping up my family’s vacation plans, (planning does make me happy) and you consider this a personal call to action: get away and go fall in love with yourself.

Eastern Shore, MD by Sam Spahr

Sam Spahr is an artist-educator who gets her kicks sharing the magic of the arts with kids and adults alike. She has a penchant for ancient artworks and helping others find the connections between now and then. When not inside a studio or bookshop, you can find her paddling out somewhere with her hubs and pup. She loves experimenting in the kitchen, but loves eating even more, especially in new cities and cultures.