A Giant Account of My Relationship With My Girlfriend

Spring 2010: unrest, Mexico, Central America, a new plan

The SE Asia trip did help me understand some stuff about myself, but it didn’t make me feel different about being in a relationship, about my capacity to settle down and be a person that is relied upon and who is responsible for the happiness of another human being. So our relationship was stable for about a month after I came back, but it quickly turned into another shit show (the same reasons as always), upon which I decided again that I just couldn’t deal with any of it and so decided to go meet my friend in Buenos Aires. I had maybe $2,000 in my bank account and I was freelancing at this website that sold academic papers to college students, so I could make money wherever I went just by writing these things, and if I ran out of money completely I figured I’d just use my credit card.

I decided to use Craigslist rideshare to get there. I broke up with my girlfriend, this time I thought ‘for good,’ and left from a Starbucks outside of her apartment on March 1st, 2010 in an Audi station wagon driven by a girl with dreadlocks. She drove me to Oakland. I stayed with Erik Stinson there for around a week I think, then found a ride to LA, where I stayed on some people’s couches. From here I took a train to San Diego, where a friend picked me up and let me stay in her parent’s large house for a couple days or so, then I moved to a family friend’s. I wanted to buy a motorcycle and just drive it across to border to Tijuana and go from there, but after some searching I found that to be too risky and dangerous and so I thought I’d just take a train across the border and then take buses down through central Mexico.

I canceled that plan, though, because I found someone on Craigslist who was going all the way to Panama in his van. He was a sailor, and evidently had a boat charter service down in Panama, and said he would give me a free ride to Cartegenas, Columbia from Panama. I checked out his charter company’s website and it looked primitive but legit. I had to go up to LA to catch the ride, so I got another Craigslist ride from San Diego to LA, where he was waiting. We drove to Las Vegas and picked up this retired cop who was coming with us. We stayed the night at his house and the next day drove for 48 hours, straight, until we reached Oaxaca in Mexico. It was an extremely arduous 48 hours. Within about 2 hours in Oaxaca, the captain and the retired cop and this total idiot New Zealander – who was also riding with us – were completely and utterly getting-in-fights drunk and wanted to leave Oaxaca the next day and eventually make it to Panama in less than two weeks. I left them because I wanted to spend a lot more time in Mexico than a couple days.

I stayed in Oaxaca for some time and eventually traveled into the Yucatan and then down to Guatemala. The whole trip through the US had taken about a month, and I had spent about three weeks traveling around Mexico.

Me somewhere in Guatemala

Summer 2010: traveling with girls, a personal change, and coming back to Seattle

In Guatemala I met these two girls from California and we ended up traveling together for about a month. I hooked up with one of them eventually and it was a really nice experience in that it wasn’t difficult in any sort of way, as hook ups can be – it made me feel okay, and the girl was very easy to relate to and I felt like myself around her. It was very comforting. I had, previous to meeting them, felt very at odds with the hostel scene, very at odds with just simply meeting and talking to people. I had been really uncomfortable with everyone, sort of, and everyone just seemed to grate on me and to not seem good enough. I felt alone, always, and I could hardly ignore the fact that I actually didn’t even want to be down there doing any of this, that this was all an uncomfortable, asinine waste of time that I was putting myself through for no reason apparent to me.

The three of us went into Honduras after Guatemala, where I got very sick with fever for a short amount of time. From there we split up because they both had to go home. The girl I had met in Thailand was by some coincidence also beginning to backpack through Guatemala and so from Honduras I went back up to a place called Antigua (in Guatemala) to meet her. We spent about a week together, mostly doing lots of valium and being completely depressed, because she was dealing with emotional issues, as was I. It culminated in this terrible fight at the end, and we parted ways, still okay with each other but definitely affected. I stayed in that town for another month, completely alone, taking Spanish and completing this copywriting contract. I was staying in a hostel that was empty save for me, and I wanted it that way. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t meet anyone during that time, and one day, toward the end of my stay there, my girlfriend emailed me. I can’t remember what she said; I only remember suddenly feeling very strongly that there was actually not anyone that was better than her – that I had literally traveled across the world, both to Thailand and through Central America, and it was so difficult in each place, and that every girl I met did not fit with me as well as her, and so I responded to her that her email made me feel very strongly, and that I was going to come home and that I wanted to be with her again and that I wanted to work on the farm with her that summer and then go to Europe with her after that.

I went back up to Mexico because flights were cheapest out of Cancun and spent a very alone couple of weeks in San Christobal and then Playa del Carmen. The morning of my flight I took a bus from Playa del Carmen directly to the Cancun airport. Within about seven hours I was sitting on my girlfriend’s couch.

I had written this extremely long email to her before I left, but hadn’t sent it to her. In the email I wrote about every single shitty thing I had done, including all the times I had slept with other girls, and every thing I thought was shitty about myself, that I thought was a betrayal to our relationship. The day after I arrived in Seattle I read the entire thing aloud to her and she cried a lot. She told me a lot of things about her feelings and it was very emotional.

Fall 2010: improvements, the farm

Our relationship had gotten a lot better after that day. I worked on the farm again that summer, with her, and I was more committed to her than I ever had been. We canned a lot of food. In late October we booked our flight to Paris – as per our plans that I had outlined to her while I was in Guatemala.

Paris

Winter 2010/2011: Europe

On December 2nd, 2010, we flew to Paris. We stayed in an incredibly small flat in the Oberkampf for a month. We had a sort of rough time with the size of the flat but stayed healthy and supportive of each other. After Paris, we flew to Barcelona, where we rented a flat that was so much nicer and bigger. It was much warmer in Barcelona. We had a very good time. After Barcelona, we flew to Lisbon, where we’re renting a bigger flat, a flat with a large easy chair, in which I am sitting, finishing this drawn out narrative of my relationship with her. We are coming back to Seattle on Sunday. I am flying to New York City for a reading that Thought Catalog is having (details will be posted this week) on the 26th, then I’m coming back to Seattle. I don’t know what’s going to happen after that, only that I have no plans to break up with my girlfriend again and that I’m committed to her in a way that I wasn’t before I read that email to her. I also know that my girlfriend has something planned for today, but won’t tell me what it is. TC mark

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  • Kel

    “…but I remember suddenly feeling very strongly that there was actually not anyone that was better than her – that I had literally traveled across the world..”

    i seriously felt good and excited about the possibility of relationships not being entirely shitty and futile when i read this.

    dude you look great in the paris pic, short hair looks excellent, would look good in a suit

    • cccp

      receiving good vibes from this comment

  • Billie

    I find it funny that this was tagged as “Long term monogamous relationships”…. it kinda makes you sound like a cheating dirtbag and your girlfriend like a pushover.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/john.fisherman Fred Rocha

    The story of your life can be mapped to those e-mail exchanges with your girlfriend. The book is already written. Memeoirs.com can get you a copy, in the format it always should have had; paper.

  • http://newhandsweepstakes.com/writings/tijuana-story-by-brian-mcelmurry/ Brian McElmurry

    Damn, awesome! I like reading about your anixiety over monogamy, and settling down.

  • http://twitter.com/dementia_inc dementia inc.

    Man why you look so faggot-y in the pics?Ok, I can give you some credit for the last one.
    But stil…

  • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

    sweet

    read with high levels of engrossment while eating chicken wings, steak, fish

    • ESTAR

      Chicken wings, steak, and fish sound really good right now.

      • ccc

        best reading food of 2011

  • JD

    fascinating. it sounds like you grew a lot in the past few years, although i'd be interested in reading your girlfriend's point of view throughout this process–sort of seems like she was just endlessly patient and waiting for you to sort yourself out. hopefully you appreciate the fact that she didn't end it earlier. you look good in the later pics.

  • http://twitter.com/MissKimball misskimball

    I liked this but you seem to have left out the part where your girlfriend promises to cut off your balls and make you eat them if you ever do that again

  • giancarlo

    this was a good article that i really enjoyed reading.

    and your girlfriend does seem to have almost endless patience, but it sounds like you're happy.

    that's nice.

  • 2ci

    brandon

    i think you are the best writer on this website

  • Emotion

    I enjoyed reading this, I hope that you and your girlfriend will work out all your issues and live happily ever after. I like how you casually mention you flying across the world and hooking up with different girls. You make it seem so easy.

    • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

      'flying across the world and hooking up with different girls: the bsg story'

  • http://twitter.com/KelleyHoffman kelley hoffman

    i have enjoyed reading so many of your shorter stories, it was nice to read the whole story

  • http://topsy.com/thoughtcatalog.com/2011/a-giant-account-of-my-entire-relationship-with-my-girlfriend/?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2 Tweets that mention A Giant Account of My Relationship With My Girlfriend « Thought Catalog -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Catherine Maldonado and brandon gorrell, Thought Catalog. Thought Catalog said: A Giant Account of My Relationship With My Girlfriend http://bit.ly/hH8OMi #TCValentinesDay […]

  • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

    sweet, bsg

    i also read feeling interested, eating various meats

  • Mallory Whitten

    i felt really happy thinking about you two and reading this

    • Mallory Whitten

      jesus
      everyone
      my face is red
      actually meant to comment http://thoughtcatalog.com/2011…/ with “i felt really happy thinking about you two and reading this “
      jesus

      • http://www.smokingonanemptystomach.blogspot.com Jordan

        lol…

        lol…

        jesus

  • http://timothypresence.com/ Timothy Willis Sanders

    read this 2x. very nice.

  • http://brianburke.tumblr.com/ brian burke

    cool, this is really engrossing/entertaining

  • EmiliaBedelia

    this is a perfect read for valentine's day.

  • Email Blender

    Well written but damn, your girlfriend sounds like she has the patience of a saint. So much of what you did sounds incredibly selfish. Glad you seem to have your shit together now.

  • thich

    i liked reading this a lot. it made me feel like i could not be stressed about my sports economics exam tomorrow, somehow.

  • Guest

    Hmm, was kinda expecting this to end with you two breaking up for good and you finding someone that you actually like enough not to treat like shit.

  • http://kumquatparadise.tumblr.com aaron nicholas

    honest and beautiful. thanks for this.

  • al

    So basically you're “suffering” from a personality disorder (i.e. a reason to blame your crippling insecurity, black hole feelings, and noncommittal attitude on) which in some way handicaps relationships for nearly all eclectic skinny, white guys in their 20s. It's nice that you two click, but this doesn't sound exceedingly healthy. I like that she reads your unflinchingly honest work though.

  • http://www.musedatbay.blogspot.com Michelina

    This post is incredible. Whether your relationship is loathed or loved it still feels entirely real and familiar and honest. What a surge of emotion.

  • Sabina Cudic

    Incredibly good writing almost masks the incredibly stereotypical behavior of a fucked-up western boy, representing a good number of members of his generation…who are coming to grips with a realization that traveling around South America, unable to relate to the hostel culture, while dragging another person through emotional mud is no more special than sitting in an office as a used cars salesman. Still, pleasure to read.

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