It was a rainy Sunday night, and he had just left my house. I was spread out on my bed in my South Florida apartment, a glass of wine beside me and my cell-phone in my hand. We were exchanging text messages.
“So let’s say we did try this relationship thing. What happens if you meet someone in Spain?”
“Well, then in that case, I will tell you.”
“What the fuck! What’s the point of trying if you’re going to meet someone?”
“I never said I would meet someone, I said I would tell you if I did.”
“But that means that you’re open to meeting someone.”
We had been hanging out non-stop for the last few weeks. We worked together at the restaurant, and it just kind of happened unexpectedly. A few weeks back, I was giddy talking about my upcoming adventure of teaching English in Spain to my co-workers. He was included in the conversation, so before we even had our first few drunken, flirty nights together it was already in the air and a well-known fact that I would leave.
“I’m not going over there to meet someone. But if something changed, I’d have to be honest and upfront about it. It’s the same as in any relationship, only I would be far away.”
The next couple of months we would spend basically inseparable. My plan was to be gone a year, but I didn’t know how long I would stay exactly. Our initial plan was to wait, but naturally over the course of the time we had left together that led up to my departure, it began to get rocky.
The fights became almost routine, and they were rarely about the sole fact that I was going to move away. It was more of an excuse for all the petty, frivolous arguments we had on a daily basis. It always seemed to go back to the idea that “I’m leaving anyway”.
I thought about my relationship before this one, and about how I left because I wanted more out of life than just sitting in his shared apartment in a city he had lived in his whole life, and watching him come home from a job he hated, continually complaining about it over a 12-pack of miller lights.
Sometimes it feels taboo to bring up wanting to travel in the midst of a serious relationship. The empty suitcase in the middle of the room represents some sort of expiration date that is easy to avoid talking about — until it turns into a whirlwind of repressed feelings.
I started a new job that November after the restaurant shut down and everybody went their separate ways. Needless to say, that relationship fell apart…and not in a healthy or mature way, from either party.
My departure date was delayed on the grounds that I still needed to save some more money before making my big move to the other side of the world. So I worked as much as I could at this wine store and moved to a new, temporary apartment a little bit north from where I was before.
I became really close with my new co-workers and on a night that consisted of too many shots, a lot of beer, and a dance floor, I became enveloped in another fling with another co-worker.
At one significant party, when we were celebrating and saying farewell to one of the guys for going off to school in another state, my secret was exposed.
“So I guess we’re kind of celebrating Ali’s departure too,” one of the girls said while we were all on the roof drinking whiskey from red, plastic cups.
And then he looks at me. “Where you going?”
Another ‘I’m leaving soon’ conversation was in the works, and I wasn’t prepared for it but it was what it was. I told him about my plans.
“That’s really soon,” he said chugging his whiskey.
I spent my last few days in Florida hanging out with new co-workers, reminiscing with old co-workers, and planning for my approaching adventure.
In January, I left for Spain. I kept in touch with a few people for a little while, but not for very long. I tried to say a proper good-bye to some former partners, but they didn’t seem to want anything to do with me at this point. The time had finally come. I was leaving.
As much as I hate to say it, I was brand new in Spain. People that I had once let my entire world and mind wrap around were no longer visible or significant at this point, and I was okay with that.
A part of me felt sad for leaving, especially because it felt like some situations were left sort of unfinished. But this transition, and being on the other side of the world alone with no familiar face to give me comfort, felt rejuvenating. And I embraced the feeling.
This world is enormous and magnificent, and it’s so easy to meet people in all the different parts of it. Now, even after my journey is over, I often think back to all of the things that people have said to me in the past that almost made me want to stay.
You’re always leaving.
Sitting in your half-lit bedroom in your new apartment, in the midst of this new relationship, I am telling you about my hopes and dreams and you are shutting them down by telling me that I am always leaving before I’ve even left.
I could have stayed and seen where this went. However, as long as I have control over my life I’ll probably do the things that I have yearned to do since I was a young, ambitious girl with dreams to see the world and a tenacious mind to do it.