What was I like before I met you? I don’t even remember anymore.
You were an unexpected surprise that turned me upside down. Serendipity. My favorite word in the English language, and the only word that comes to mind when I think of you.
This may seem like the cliché story of a girl who goes on a trip to a far away land to “find herself”, ends up falling in love, and lives happily ever after. This isn’t that story, because unfortunately for me, I live in something called the real world. That place where life kicks in and the fairy tale ending isn’t what you thought it’d be. I’m still writing that novel, but you aren’t part of that ending, you were just a chapter in the middle that I never wanted to end.
I was 22 and lost; from the outside everything looked great, I had a good job, amazing friends and family, and lots of free time to do as I wished. Nothing was inherently wrong, but I felt an itch in my skin, something was missing in myself-I didn’t feel connected to who I was anymore.
I’d gotten so lost in the rat race of life and tied up in image and how my life looked from the outside that I forgotten to ask myself if I even liked who I was. In order to gain some insight and segregate myself from the life I’d grown too accustomed to, I decided to save up for the summer and pack my bags for a solo trip to Spain.
My initial plan was to spend the summer getting my TEFL certification and head to Barcelona to teach English for awhile. I figured immersing myself in a new culture would be a good way to completely throw myself out of my comfort zone and see what happened. So I did just that. I finished the course, booked the flight, and come September I was on my way across the pond.
But I got scared.
Funny how most of these wanderers never mention that in their stories. I landed and sat in my hotel for the first two days not knowing what to do. I didn’t speak the language, know where to go, or what to do with myself, so I retreated into myself and shut down. Eventually I gave myself a stern, “Get your ass out of this room, Christina” and slowly became more excited about my surroundings. But I decided after a few days in Barcelona that I wouldn’t be staying. I was in Europe! I’d always dreamed of coming here, so why not go out on a limb and just see where the wind took me? So, off to Italy I went.
And after Italy, there was Greece, and then France, and countless countries to follow, until I landed in Prague (a very last minute decision mind you). By the time I got to Prague, I was all about the backpacking life. I didn’t even recognize this girl spending the whole day doing a city tour and mingling with fellow travelers. Those may seem like trivial things, but I was finally starting to break out of my shell, and having the most amazing time doing so. A group of us went on a pub crawl that night, and I got my first taste of absinthe. Let’s just say, the free drinks definitely weren’t underused that night. I caught wind of you at the first bar, but it wasn’t until later that night that I’d finally meet you.
I won’t pretend I thought this was anything special the first night I met you. I was captivated by your charisma, and that British accent definitely didn’t hurt, but I never thought I’d see you again. We were both there on a weekend trip and the end of the night was a bit of a blur. But I do remember you got a taxi to take me home and followed up with my hostel to make sure I made it okay. Not a common gesture I was used to. I definitely wasn’t prepared for you to pursue me after, but you did. I was on my way to London next, and you made sure our time in Prague wasn’t the last of our time together.
Every time I think of London now, I think of you.
The week was the most unexpected, yet amazing part of my entire trip. Plans gone awry and getting lost in the city was always followed with a laugh because I was with you.
Sometimes you meet someone and your souls just connect.
I could talk to you about any and everything, and for the first time I wasn’t scared to open up and tell you how I felt. I wanted to make plans far down the road with you, because even though I barely knew you, I knew you were different. You were special. Serendipity.
Looking back, maybe that was just supposed to be an amazing week and we were supposed to leave it at that. But we tried, and ultimately failed to keep our love alive. The harder we tried, the more it seemed to fall apart. But I wouldn’t change trying all those times, over and over again with you, because I loved you. I think I always will.
Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that love doesn’t equal forever, even if you love someone more than you thought was humanly possibly.
It’s been months since we ended things, and I’m finally picking up the pieces of my life. I never thought I’d get over you, but I finally go most of the day without constantly wondering what you’re up to over in your corner of the world. That’s huge progress for me.
Our relationship showed me just how much I could love and give someone, and now I’m giving all that love to me. I’ve changed and so have you; we aren’t the two people who fell into love those warm fall nights back in London.
But even though we’re both moving on with our lives, and growing into the people we’re supposed to be, you should know London will always be my favorite city.