So we find ourselves at this crossroads again.
You have a smile that brings me to my knees. Somehow you know exactly what to say and at all the right times. I catch myself imagining a time in the future when we’d be in the same place at the same time. We would make plans. Maybe we would even exchange wedding bands.
We met in the way that it tends to go when we travel: On a beach, with waves playing a song in the distance, reggae tunes adding some bass from a shack nearby that serves up semi-cold beer, and your eyes somehow shining brighter than anything else in sight. It’s almost blinding.
You said hello and asked where I’m from. I asked how long you’ve been traveling for. I was toast from the beginning, I tell you.
I knew from the moment I saw you that at the very least I’d happily spend a week with you.
Eventually we move on to deeper and more meaningful things. We talk about what we think of the world, how we’d love to open a hostel on an island way out there somewhere, even though we both know we won’t. We hang out on the warm sand and play in the waves while sharing our deepest fears and telling stories about our friends and family from back home. We act very much like a couple except for one thing: Permanence.
We skirt the issue of tomorrow and with every passing day, when each sunset lights up the sky, we pretend that the shelf life this has doesn’t exist.
We both know this can’t last forever, with our different passports and life paths, but we also don’t want to ruin this moment with the dreary thought of goodbye. The seductive pull of right here and right now keeps us on cloud nine.
Your arm grazes mine and I feel a flush of energy, like a million little butterflies are coursing through my chest. It makes no sense to me but somehow I have to hold myself back from saying, ‘I love you,’ even though I barely know you. Each time I see you all I wish for is to be attached to you in some way, hand in hand, cuddling in bed, intertwined.
You know I’d love to hold on, believing that this could last for longer than this day, this week, this month, but like all things, it would eventually lose its appeal.
You see, the lovely thing about you is the person who you are right here, without the pressures of real life and the stress of where the next paycheck will come from. Eventually we’d have to confront how we’d deal with who has to move where to make it work, and how it would turn to mostly long-distance Skype calls and Whatsapp messages when we part ways. One person would have to make a sacrifice and might begrudge it forever. Is that really what we want?
You see, I could love you, but I love the road, too.
I love the unanswered mysteries out there, beckoning me to explore. I’m enamored with new sights, smells, and adventures. I’m addicted to movement in the way that some are obsessed with finding a ring. The two seem to be mutually exclusive, and it’s just the way it goes.
While it’s true that someone always knows someone whose cousin fell in love on a trip and somehow it worked out, this Cinderella story is always so far removed from any reality I’ve ever known.
Yet it’s what keeps us travelers holding onto the idea that we might fall in love in a way that would last. I’d get a new passport and last name. We’d figure it out along the way.
Except that the things that are the most alluring about you – your accent, the way you say and see things, and your general approach to life and how different it is to mine, would eventually be the very things that challenge us the most.
Life and love aren’t about the times that we spend laughing on the beach, but rather the boring weekday nights we eat dinner while watching TV.
It’s so hard to imagine us that way, so I’d like to just leave it where it is, in a little suitcase, never to come back with me.
So on the day I’m about to leave again, with a plane ticket in my hand,
I just want to say how truly wonderful it was to know you.
I wish you all the best in life and love, but to be honest I never want to know if you do, indeed, find love.
Good luck, my dear, but for now, my love is the road.