“Well you surely aren’t going to find a boyfriend like that, are you?”, chuckles the British lady sitting next to me on the plane to London.
I made the mistake of divulging my indefinite travel plans following a brief, innocent “Hey, how are you? What were you doing in Spain?” exchange.
Thus, her proclamation about my doomed love life.
It amazes me how often people immediately jump to my inability to lock down a husband should I continue to travel. Actually, I guess I’m mostly surprised that they A) readily voice those concerns and B) assume I’m not in a relationship to begin with. Also, I’m barely in my late 20’s.
I politely smile while ten different responses ranging from “little do you know, lady” to “frankly that’s none of your effing business” run through my head.
“Well I’ve actually been traveling Spain with an English guy I met a few weeks back in Greece,” I hear myself say.
To me, it sounds like a desperate attempt at convincing her, myself, and anyone within earshot that I’m not on the fast track to dying alone, passport clutched tightly to my chest as I take my last, gasping breath.
But not to this overly tanned divorcee — returning from a two-week holiday at a resort in Malaga with her new boyfriend, where they spent their days surrounded by other mid-life Brits on beaches, drinking one too many sangrias. No… it was flamenco music to her ears.
“Oh how LOVELY!” she gushes. “But surely you won’t stay in London with him, will you? What are you going to do? Won’t you want…”
I start thinking about him and genuinely can’t keep from smiling, despite the lack of a romantic bone in my body.
We gave new meaning to “hitting it off” the day we met. Followed by a week-long road trip across northern Greece where hikes, waterfalls, hammocks on beaches, and feta-stuffed, olive-oil drenched food became our shared reality. A short time apart before meeting again in Spain to do it all over again — substitute some tapas and siestas.
And what I wish I’d had the cojones to say to the lady is this:
“I know what I’m doing isn’t traditional. Yes, almost all my friends from home are in engagement-bound relationships. I’ve already missed four weddings this year being overseas. Sure, it kills me to see how big my friends’ babies are getting while I’m gone. I do, in fact, become more aware of the ticking time bomb that is a woman’s biological clock, with each passing year.”
But here is what I want to get straight:
I am not missing out on love. My life is filled with more love and meaningful relationships when I’m traveling than it was throughout the rest of my life combined. I have friends I’ve become closer to in a week than I ever was to roommates I had for years. The common love of traveling isn’t the same as sharing an affinity for theatre or a passion for chess. It’s a human-to-human connection — one that comes at a time when people are their most vulnerable: alone, in a foreign place, unabashedly open to new experiences and connections.
These people know the world and have seen and felt the beauty that emanates from every longitude and latitude. They get it. They get me.
It’s not just friendships. It’s almost hard not to fall in love while on the road. Not in brief, hookup-fueled lust. Not infatuation. (Don’t get me wrong, these things happen easily too and can be just as wonderful in their own right).
But I’ve fallen a couple of times. In real love, from the most genuine place in my soul.
These people will always be a part of my life. They’re not nearby and I don’t miss them. Not because I don’t love them but because I do. We’re in the places we’re meant to be and those places don’t happen to be on the same continent right now. They were together in the past and maybe they will be again in the future and if so, that’s dope.
But in the meantime, I’ll keep loving them. Because why wouldn’t I? The fear of loss is the only thing that hurts in love, and I have nothing to lose. A week spent in love is better than a complete avoidance of relationships simply because I don’t want to settle down at the moment.
And I’ll keep my heart open to loving anyone else I may meet. Because life is short and the idea of wasting time not being honest with yourself (and everyone else) is silly. ‘Love lives’ don’t have to all look the same. So long as you love life, what else matters?
Sure, I may not be on the most typical path to marriage and children. And I thank the Universe for that. I don’t want a typical life.
I’ve done that. And I’ve done this. And, at least for now, I greatly prefer this.