We met in the most obvious of places, at a bar, the kind of late night encounter that is not supposed to result in a story worth telling. Sipping an IPA, sporting an orange hat and a full beard, intrigue crept in. We chatted, the conversations barreling forward, laced with an air of desire that I couldn’t yet place. I asked him if we could read together, proposing emotional intimacy before I even knew that’s what he made me crave.
A date arranged and a confession quickly spilled forward, I was leaving soon. A desire to be a travel writer pushing me forward, a job in Tanzania pulling me away, a fear of anything that resembled normalcy always my compass.
And yet it began. It felt rushed and electric in a way that only a deadline can impose on a situation. I wanted to get to know as much of him as I could; quickly, beautifully, it unfolded tripping over itself as my heart did involuntary somersaults. Africa turned from a certainty into a question.
We went hiking, kissing inside a tree trunk barely large enough for two. We drank bourbon so strong that it only added fuel to the already ignited fire. We took walks late at night into the darkness, trusting each other as the edges of the world became less certain. We told stories, revealing the depths of our pasts and the desires of our futures, wanting to pour our experiences into one another as quickly as we could. We read poems about dragons, and it felt dramatic, teetering towards clique yet not quite reaching the threshold. Africa continued to dance circles around me.
His eyes melted into mine as we spoke truths about one another that we had forgotten to see within ourselves. I drank him up and he did the same. It felt reckless. Dangerous. The space that I had created for a future of fearless travel slowly filled by the idea of him. The possibility of happiness. The promise of comfort. We both let it happen. Let excitement build. Let vulnerability seep in. A new kind of adventure beckoned, we tossed around the idea, laughing at the preposterousness of it all, silently letting the details settle in-between the folds of the sheets.
And yet I boarded a plane. The reality truthfully known since the beginning, my leaving already too entangled in the very nature of us.
What we did not know was that things that build fast, that relationships that are rushed, that unknown stories and plot lines unable to unfold sometimes are harder to walk away from. That not knowing what could have been was almost more painful than discovering it in it’s own time.
I got on a plane and I left.
A desire for a relationship that resembled something normal pulling my suitcase in the opposite direction.
Yet, what lay ahead was too pressing to deny. I got on the plane and I left.