I had a choice of 3 things to write about tonight, but I’m drunk, so of course the one about girls goes straight to the top. You go into a travel fling thinking about how she’s fun and cute, but since you’re both leaving in a few days you’ll have your time together and that’ll be the end of it. Sometimes that’s how it works. But then there are the other times, when you’re still wrapped up together at 6 in the morning lying in a hammock, or a caravan, or their parents fucking guesthouse on the other side of the world thinking, why does this have to end?
Of course you know in your heart that it doesn’t, but you hardly know this girl, and it would be stupid to start making plans to meet up and live together in some made-up corner of the world. So, you don’t. You let your heart break again and again, and you push on with this twisted notion that sticking with one particular person will somehow stop you from “living your life”. Whatever the fuck that means.
Well, what if it’s the opposite? What if trying to build something together means experiencing life on a whole other level? What if there’s something more beautiful and profound about sharing your life with another than the widest river or highest mountain you’ll ever climb alone? What if for once in your life you fell in love with somebody other than yourself? A lot of your friends know this, and you used to mock them.
“But I fell in love with this girl”, I hear you say. No you fucking didn’t. You saw something in them that you thought you could love then ran the other way. You always say it’s a cliché, but what if she was the one? The one that might have ended the pangs of loneliness and pining for a familiar face you sometimes feel on the road. What then?
I guess you’ll never know.
Or, maybe you already do. Who says something has to last forever to be real? Maybe knowing that your time together has an expiry date brings you right into the present moment. For those few days together you try to soak up and relish every second of the experience and the most mundane tasks are all of a sudden filled with magic. A walk along the beach to breakfast, or a hungover afternoon spent lying around and listening to music turns from a way to pass the time into a cherished memory and a story to tell your grandchildren.
In an attempt to deny the inevitable end of your time together you find yourself constantly searching for new experiences to share. That day trip to the obscure, little fishing village that was too hard by yourself turns out to be one of the best places of your trip, because she was there. The bungee jump she talked you into doing after you said you couldn’t afford but were really just terrified of turns out to be exhilarating and you still talk about it months after, because she was there.
Relationships are forged and strengthened through shared experience, and exploring new cultures and landscapes together in some far-away corner of the world is one hell of an experience to share. In a matter of days, or sometimes even hours you find yourself connected with this person on a deeper level than many others in your past, until one morning you’re lying awake, still talking as the first rays of light shine through the hostel window asking yourself: Can this be real?
There’s no time for lies or omissions of truth either when your days are numbered, and you’ll surprise yourself by how open and honest you can be when you already have an end date in sight. From the first kiss you both laid all your cards on the table, and although at times it will be awkward and painful to talk about the very real possibility of never seeing each other again, you’ll do it, and like everything else you do together, you’ll be stronger for the experience. You realise that every moment spent dancing around the reality of your situation is a moment that could and should have been spent dancing together around an impromptu bonfire, or barefoot on the sticky, bamboo floor of a long-forgotten cabaña bar.
When you’re counting down the hours and dreading the end you never focus on the negatives. Maybe they’re not quite the kind of person you’d date back home. Well, so what? Good. You learn that you can love and care for, and be attracted to somebody from a different background or with different values, and if you’re lucky maybe they’ll be the stimulus for you to re-assess your own.
Whether or not your paths cross again isn’t important, what matters is the here and now. If you focus on enjoying the shit out of every second you have together, time will stand still. The air will taste sweeter and the nights will both stretch on forever and seem to be over in an instant, and at the end of it all if you still have to part ways you’ll have shared a beautiful moment in time with a person you won’t forget for the rest of your life, and after all, isn’t that what any good relationship is about?